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Dumb & Dumber To •••

Dumb_and_Dumber_To_PosterStarring: Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels, Rob Riggle
Director: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly
Screenplay: Sean Anders, Mike Cerrone
Comedy, Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 109 minutes
Release Date: November 14, 2014

Harry & Lloyd: Duo, P-P Mental, Pro (Untransformed Buddy Heroes)

The Pinchelows: Ensemble, N-N Moral, Ant (Untransformed Family Villains)


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(Dr. Scott Allison, Professor of Psychology, University of Richmond)

Greg, we’ve been waiting twenty long, painful years for this sequel to Dumb and Dumber.

And watching it felt like another 20 long painful years. Let’s recap:

Twenty years after Lloyd (Jim Carrey) has had his heart broken by a woman in the previous movie, we learn that the shock of the breakup has caused him to be institutionalized for two decades. We also learn that he was faking the trauma as a practical joke directed at Harry (Jeff Daniels). Harry has a damaged kidney and needs a friend or family member to donate one. Harry’s parents are poor candidates because they are Asians and adopted him. But as fate would have it, Harry learns that he fathered a child twenty years earlier. The two men set out to find the child (now grown) and her kidney.

Scott, Dumb and Dumber To is impressive not in its content, but in the commitment its two stars put into their roles. This movie has a very loose plot held together with some very outrageous jokes and slapstick. There are some running gags left over from the original film (young Billy and the birds are back). And some new ones (the cat named Butthole, because, you know, cats have butt holes).

This is a classic buddy hero story with Lloyd and Harry on a quest to find Harry’s long lost daughter. But as heroes these guys leave a lot to be desired. They can be mean (as when they heckle a scientist at a TED-type talk), they are selfish and self-centered, and they are not the least bit reliable. They are poor examples of human beings. Still, they care for each other. Harry has been visiting his old friend in the nursing home for 20 years. And Lloyd is committed to getting his friend a new kidney, regardless the cost. What they lack in visible heroism, they make up for in loyalty.

Greg, Dumb and Dumber To is one of those movies that defies any kind of serious analysis, and yet here we are as movie reviewers writing about these characters as if they matter. The truth is, this movie falls in the same category of throwaway movies as Adam Sandler’s Grown Ups films. Dumb and Dumber To is pure farce, and I use the term farce because it almost sounds like fart. Most of the humor here is about butts, butt cracks, and butt holes. You mention, Greg, that these are buddy heroes but I think you meant butty heroes.

Our two heroes are not bad people, Greg. They are just stupid people. What psychologists know about human nature is that nothing makes us feel better about ourselves than witnessing others people who are dumber than us. In fact, that’s what this movie franchise should be called: Dumber Than Us. And what’s most disturbing about this movie is that I found myself laughing at many of the jokes. I’ve never felt so much shame in my entire life.

Not only are they not very smart, but not very mature. Imagine, if you will, two ten-year-olds with drivers licenses. When you look at Dumb and Dumber To in that light, it all starts to make sense. This is the mentality of all the Farrelly Brothers films (Dumb and Dumber, The Three Stooges, and Movie 43). There’s nothing wrong with that, but if your characters start out as children, and end up as children, there’s not much growth (or transformation) going on.

The villains were a pretty plain lot too. All of them were painted pretty broadly and with no real dimension. The evil wife character Adele (Laurie Holden) is slowly poisoning her husband to get his fortune and is in cahoots with her adulterous boyfriend Travis (Rob Riggle). This is a simplistic plot device in a simplistic movie. Later, Travis is replaced with mercenary Captain Lippencott who is another “pure evil” character with little other explanation. This is all pretty tame fare designed as scaffolding for a series of (as you put it) butt jokes.

You’re right about the villains, Greg. These may be labeled Family villains, as described by Paul Moxnes and his model of both good and evil family social roles. Despite being thousands of IQ points smarter than Harry and Lloyd, these villains somehow are vanquished by our two butty heroes. Much of the humor of this movie stems from the ways that Harry and Lloyd experience one unlikely (and purely lucky) triumph over a villain after another. As you point out, our two heroes are hardly good people, but compared to Adele and Travis, they are pure of heart and thus we have no trouble rooting for them. Sort of.

Still, I had a good time at Dumb and Dumber To, due in large part to the 100% commitment of Carrey and Daniels. Both actors have much better things to do with their time than make such low-brow comedy. But I did fall in love with the Harry and Lloyd’s innocence. In the end (sorry) that is where the heart of this movie lies. For an enjoyable 100-minute ride, I’ll give Dumber and Dumber To 3 out of 5 Reels. And for our naive heroes 3 out of 5 Heroes. The villains left me wanting, but surely didn’t distract me, so I’ll give them 1 Villain out of 5.

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I also enjoyed Dumb and Dumber To, Greg. Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels were born for these toilet roles. They clearly enjoy doing these movies and it shows. Sometimes it shows a bit too much, as when Daniels displays more butt-cleavage than Dolly Parton. I didn’t learn a thing and grow in any way as a result of watching this film, but I did enjoy connecting with my innermost potty-humor self. Like you, I award this movie 3 Butt-Reels out of 5.

The hero story is inconsequential and there is no growth or change in our heroically stupid characters. Apologies to Joseph Campbell, who is probably turning over in his grave. There is no Great Eight, only a Great Taint. I’ll kindly award these two goofballs 2 Heroes out of 5. The villains were ridiculous, as they allowed themselves to be defeated by a couple of cheeky (sorry), empty-headed losers. One Villain out of 5 sounds about right.

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