Twenty years after they permanently lowered the bar on broad and dumb character comedies, Lloyd and Harry are back, “Dumb and Dumber” than ever in “Dumb and Dumber To.”
And within moments of the opening credits, you may find yourself overcome with sentimental warmth at seeing two 50something actors as characters that the years have not made smarter. Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels energetically reprise their popular roles, and the warmth follows.
Sure, it’s only trickling down your leg and never comes close to reaching your heart, but warmth is warmth, right?
Those fart-joke farceurs, the Farrellys, re-team with their stars and an equally aged supporting cast for a film of occasional funny lines, random uproarious sight gags and bodily function jokes, all scented with a whiff of sad desperation. They’re “Stooges” in a post-“Hangover” world, and the staleness shows.
Six credited writers and you get malapropisms such as “It’s all water under the fridge,” and “That’s just a suburban legend!” Carrey ensures that he gets almost all the funny lines here. But the fetching Miss Melvin tries her hand at a couple as her character wonders if she should “go to India and volunteer at one of those Leprechaun colonies!”
The road trips, with Rob Riggle playing a malevolent schemer trying to keep them from reaching Harry’s daughter, have an epic fart joke, but too many lame zingers to get them or us all the way across the country.
Carrey’s recent appearance on “Saturday Night Live” reminded us of his gift for mimicry, and his post-Farrelly films have shown ambition and flashes of brilliance. Daniels has been reliably funny in a wide range of comedies over the decades. They can still bring it. Watching Carrey eat a mustard-drenched hot dog is positively Keatonesque — Buster, not Michael.
Truth be told, I was never a fan of the first “Dumber,” but the stars made it endurable and convincingly stupid. Here, they’re sometimes funny, and sometimes just forlorn. They’re better than this, no matter how good they are at hiding the fact that they know it.
A whole generation has grown up on the antics of these two Rhode Island rubes, so a little nostalgia isn’t unwarranted. Box office hopes for this pre-packaged but very late sequel should be high. But the strain shows in the wizened-but-not-wiser stars.
It’s just that comedy left the Farrellys behind over 10 years ago, and even their best efforts at reviving their PG-13 Three Stooges style feels old-fashioned and tired.
And that warmth we feel in those promising early scenes? With luck, it’ll come out in the wash.
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