Director brothers Bobby and Peter Farrelly (who recently directed the unfathomably bad “The Three Stooges” reboot) worked with four others on the film’s script, but credited screenwriters Sean Anders and John Morris seem to be sinking to the level of the subject matter. Anders and Morris wrote the solid R-rated comedies “She’s Out of My League” and “Hot Tub Time Machine,” but there’s something uglier at work here in the PG-13-rated “Dumb and Dumber To.” The lazy jokes and poor writing are systemic, the only thing going on, but it’s now 20 years since the original. The material should have, hopefully, changed along with the times. And yet we’re still getting the same “love you long time” jokes about Asians; the same “a lady doctor?” jokes about women; the same jokes about sticking your fingers in your underwear and shoving those fingers in someone else’s face. It’s utterly pointless and utterly disgusting.
The film picks up 20 years after 1994’s “Dumb and Dumber” ended; for two decades, Lloyd Christmas (Carrey, of “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues”) has been living in a psychiatric hospital, torn up over his failed romance from the first film, while best friend Harry Dunne (Bridges) visits him every week, changes his urine bag and diapers (so much gross-out humor) and keeps him company. Although, guess what: Lloyd has been faking this whole time! It’s all been a long prank on Harry! Oh, what fun. What terrible, awful, not funny at all fun.
Once Lloyd drops the con, the two friends reunite, but Harry has bad news of his own: He needs a kidney transplant or he’ll die. Through a convoluted series of stupid events, Harry realizes that he fathered a daughter 20 years ago that he didn’t know about; the baby’s mother, Fraida Felcher (Kathleen Turner), gave her up for adoption, but provides Harry and Lloyd with her address. Together, they decide to (much like the first film) embark on a road trip to find her, and then embark on another road trip to meet up with her in El Paso, where she’s attending a technology conference. And then maybe she’ll decide to give Harry her kidney—and maybe she’ll fall in love with Lloyd, who has only seen a picture of her but is already having perverse sexual fantasies about her. Because why wouldn’t he?
There’s also a subplot about the girl Penny’s (Rachel Melvin) adoptive father being a tech genius with a conniving wife who is plotting to steal his fortune, which gives Harry and Lloyd some foes during their road trip to meet up with her, but fundamentally the film is consumed with the gross things Harry and Lloyd do to other people and to each other. They fart. They bathe in nuclear waste. They mispronounce words; they hit each other in the face and genitals; they mock women in every conceivable way; they’re violent to animals; they don’t understand traffic laws; they don’t understand sex. On and on and on.
And perhaps if any of this was presented in a creative or imaginative way, it could work … maybe. But when the punchlines are from middle-aged men yelling at women to “show us your” you-know-whats; giggling about how babies are made; and mocking the parents of a dead friend, and it all goes down exactly as you would expect, it’s not enjoyable. There is no rejuvenation of the ideas from 20 years ago, or anything even remotely unexpected—like the weird, off-kilter zeal that Zach Galifianakis brought to “The Hangover” films, or the subtle observation of young-adult malaise considered in “Let’s Be Cops,” or the pure chemistry between Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum in “22 Jump Street,” all superior recent comedies. In “Dumb and Dumber To,” Carrey and Bridges both seem game for anything—they plunge their hands down the back of their pants readily enough—but the genre has left them behind. “If we died, no one would miss us,” Lloyd says at one point, and he’s right. “Dumb and Dumber To” should have never been given life.
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