[12 June 2014]
PopMatters Contributing Editor
Okay, so it’s just a trailer. Okay, so there are millions of Farrelly Brothers fans out there who have been waiting for this sequel like the second coming. Okay, so both Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels have seen their career fortunes wane a bit in the 20 years since the first film, so we can excuse their passion/paycheck cashing appearance here. Okay, the scenes are taken out of context and represent a mere sampling of the supposed humor this film has in store for us (2:40 minutes out of 90, one imagines). However, and this is a pretty big caveat, it’s quite possible that the Farrelly Brothers have simply lost their knack. Want proof? Okay…
QUICK! Name their last movie? Better still, name their last four? You can’t, can you…at least, not without a struggle and a sneak peek at IMDb or Wikipedia. That’s because the one time buzzed about filmmakers have found little post-millennial favor in the ripped from better sources scatology they helped champion and make commercial. Even when it was first announced, this sequel (unimaginatively entitled Dumb and Dumber To - ha, ha) seemed more like a desperation move and not the answer to fans’ faint prayers.
Before we begin, feast your eyes on this:
First, let’s discuss what passes for humor in this particular preview. Let’s avoid the main narrative thread for a moment (Daniel’s Harry Dunne finds out he has a daughter) and concentrate on the main set-pieces presented. In the first one, Lloyd is seen living in an asylum, obviously still in shock over losing Mary “Samsonite.” Harry comes to visit, finds out that his buddy’s stay has all been part of an elaborate, two decades long joke, and then proceeds to pull his pal’s catheter out, resulting in Lloyd lunging crotch-first out of his wheelchair. Hilarious, right? Then we get a peak at Harry’s apartment. There, he has a pet cat which he calls “Butthole.” When Lloyd asks about the name, his buddy shows him the cat’s ass. Literally. Guffaw. Guffaw.
Next, we get a brief glimpse of Kathleen Turner (whose character will be played in a younger version by Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence, who is MIA here by the way) discussing Harry’s daughter, and Lloyd instantly fantasizing about her sexually. When his pal calls him out on this, the gag’s potential goes nowhere. Finally, while rummaging around in a nursing home (again, no context), an old lady tells the boys that she is hiding some “diamonds” under her “rear.” As Lloyd fiddles around beneath her “turkey,” there’s a great deal of gross sexual innuendo going on (Giblets? Ewww…). Granny even does a disgusting “O” face. Once his hand is out of the “area,” Lloyd blows the dust off his fingers. I’ll wait until you’re done laughing.
Painful doesn’t begin to describe it.
Now, it’s hard to blame Carrey and Daniels. As we said before, both have fallen back to Earth since their days as above the marquee names. They originated these characters and are surely making some money for coming back to them now. No, the pong on this stunted attempt at humor comes directly from Peter and Bobby Farrelly, the onetime comedy juggernaut who haven’t made a good movie in over a decade (we’re partial to Jack Black in Shallow Hal).
Since stinking up the place with their ill-advised attempt at remaking The Heartbreak Kid, they’ve given us limp male midlife crisis (Hall Pass) and a defiantly dull, aimed directly at the pre-adolescents look at The Three Stooges. At one time, they were seen as guaranteed hit maker, taking their raunchy, rude and incredibly crude comedy style and applying it to the RomCom (There’s Something About Mary, Me Myself and Irene), the underdog athlete/comeback narrative (Kingpin), and the buddy romp (Dumb and Dumber).
Then, in 2003, they came up with the lame high concept conjoined twin title Stuck on You (featuring Greg Kinnear and Matt Damon as the duo) and it looked like their track record was in trouble. Heartbreak Kid confirmed it. Now, they are best known as trying to reclaim their past glory as well as championing one of last year’s worst outings, the star-studded stinker Movie 43. Still, fans have held out, holy grail style, for a reconnection between the Brothers and Carrey/Daniels. They’ll get their wish sometime in November of this year.
All of which causes the following concern - has it been too long? Remember, at the time of Dumb and Dumber, Jim Carrey was “smokin’” hot. He had just come off the one-two punch of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and The Mask. The star even demanded - and got - a $7 million salary for starring in the film (almost half of its $17 million budget). He was the ‘90s main funnyman. Today, Carrey is lukewarm to tepid at best. His last big hit NON-ANIMATED hit was Yes Man, and that was six years ago. While he’s tried to rebuild his fortunes via character work (The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, Kick-Ass 2), he’s perhaps now more notorious than famous. Daniels, on the other hand, rebuilt his reputation thanks to Aaron Sorkin and an Emmy winning turn in the HBO hit The Newsroom. Before that, he was awash in b-movies and direct-to-DVD titles.
None of this will matter to the devoted, however. They will remember the classic bits from the first film (mostly revolving around obnoxious noises and Harry’s extended bout of explosive diarrhea) and prepare for more Dumb and Dumber goodness. For someone like yours truly, who never really got the Farrellys appeal, it will just be more of the same. I have to admit, I found nothing in the trailer funny, but as I often say about movies these days, I’m not a reliable judge since this movie clearly isn’t being made for me. Instead, it’s for those who’ve longed for these characters (and their creators) to return. Who knows, maybe Dumb and Dumber To will be good. The trailer, for now, suggests otherwise.