Dumb and Dumber To

By Christopher Redmond

Mailed on November 14, 2014

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Dear Jennifer Lawrence
Cameo Remover

Dear Jennifer,

Must be nice to have full control of your image for once.

A lot of the early buzz around Dumb and Dumber To is about how you’re not in the movie. Whether you exercised your contractual right to veto your cameo appearance, or whether the filmmakers made a purely artistic decision to…

...oh, who are we kidding? You wanted out and you got out. That’s your right, and that’s fine. But I hope your withdrawal wasn’t a judgment of the quality of the film. Because I liked it. I liked it a lot.

The original Dumb and Dumber did a lot of things right, starting with the title (which virtually insulates it from snotty criticism). The laughs are pretty much packed wall-to-wall, stemming from characters who exist solely to be the butt-end of their own jokes. But it’s the re-watchability of the original that separates it from the average idiotic comedy.

You know this as well as anyone, having publicly professed your love for the first film and your fondness for quoting the (dare we saw ‘classic’) comedy. But even you must have had reservations about participating in what could have been a payday nostalgia trip for Jeff Daniels and Jim Carrey, the latter of whom hasn’t had a hit comedy in over a decade.

But I’m still curious: at what point was your confidence in the film shaken?

Maybe you never got past the first 20 minutes. Honestly, I wouldn’t blame you. In what feels like painfully contrived set-up, Carrey’s Lloyd character has been committed to an institution for the past two decades. He suddenly breaks his catatonic state to reveal he was just pranking his best friend Harry. This is followed by some over-the-top physical humour, and a return to their old dungy apartment, where Harry’s new roommate is a crystal-meth maker (a wasted opportunity for a Bryan Cranston cameo). We also get a return of the blind and wheelchair-bound Billy, with a new flock of birds. At this point, things did not bode well for the film to generate new laughs.

But as the plot unfolds – which involves Harry searching for a new kidney by tracking down the daughter he never knew he had – the film starts to reach beyond lazy gags, throwing some new quotable jokes and some of that classic character-based stupidity. I’m not sure when I let out my first hearty laugh, but I do remember feeling like I was the only one laughing. For me, it all stemmed from falling back in love with the characters. Some small quirk (in a movie filled with huge quirks) had hit me in just the right way. I could feel Jim Carrey going for it—something he obviously didn’t feel prepared to do until now. And it felt good.

But maybe you just had a hard time looking at their faces; two men who have aged physically but regressed mentally.

You wouldn’t be alone. Base on the trailer, that’s a valid fear. Gags that are funny when performed by a thirty-two year-old are different when performed by a fifty-two-year-old. But it’s also invigorating when done right. And I really think that, for the most part, this film does it right. Even the early mental institution gag feels, by the end, like a dare-I-say smart way to bring the time gap.

But while the Farrelly Brothers have rediscovered their old selves, you seem to have moved on to the next iteration of your career. The unrehearsed, unreserved, down-to-earth personality that America fell in love with over the past few years seems to be have been replaced with a guarded, slightly more calculating media presence. Staying out of this film might be the best example.

But just remember that it’s okay to be dumb some times. And dumber, to.



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