Tuesday, December 16, 2014

How Recycled Is 'Dumb and Dumber To'?

When I used Dumb and Dumber quotes to recap the beginning of the NBA season, I promised a review of Dumb and Dumber To as soon as I got around to seeing it. On Saturday night, amidst a Christmas pub crawl*, our friend Jaime bought a bootleg copy of the movie. We watched it on Sunday, and this is your review.

*Word to the wise: Don't start a pub crawl after a six-hour "pregame."

Any review of Dumb and Dumber To has to start with Dumb and Dumber as a baseline reference point. The reason so many of us loved the original film, despite its inherent stupidity, was that it featured so many original jokes. Clever jokes. Jokes that didn't follow the typical buddy-comedy pattern. Even the bathroom humor felt fresh. (Even though it definitely didn't smell fresh.)

That type of originality, which thrilled 10-year-old Me, is the main ingredient that the sequel lacks. I don't mean to that the movie isn't funny. I laughed out loud a bunch of times, and I enjoyed watching Harry and Lloyd as a reunited daft duo. But none of the jokes felt original. Most were simply recycled from the first film. Here's a sampling (Spoilers abound, but are you really concerned about the plot of a Dumb and Dumber movie?):
  • In the 1994 film, Lloyd fantasized about ripping out the heart of a ninja to impress Mary Swanson. This time, he imagines taking on a pack of ninjas and throwing a sharp metal plate through one of their heads. I guess that's kindasorta different? 
  • Billy in 4C. He's baaaack. And he still loves parrots.
  • Instead of protecting Mary Swanson's briefcase, Harry and Lloyd are charged with guarding the contents of a mysterious cardboard box. And just as the briefcase contains only IOUs by the time the bad guys get to it, the cardboard box holds similarly valueless cupcakes.
  • Speaking of IOUs, Lloyd is still obsessed with them. You get the sense that he owes money to a lot of people.
  • One of my favorite recurring Dumb and Dumber jokes is the hilarious use of malapropism. For instance, in the original, Harry claims that Frada Felcher sent him a "John Deere letter." Lloyd, meanwhile, opines that Mary will invite them over for "tea and strumpets." In the new film, the guys talk about "water under the fridge" and being "encrusted" with responsibility. My favorite, though: Harry telling Lloyd, "I hate to burst your butthole."
  • Speaking of buttholes, Harry names his cat "Butthole." You know, because it has a butthole. I don't think that joke is recycled from the original movie, which might explain why I found it especially funny. 
  • In a slightly more crude vein, the Farrelly Brothers again included groin punches in their script. I'm sure my 11-year-old brother appreciates it.
  • Harry and Lloyd are mistaken for a gay couple in both films.
  • Rob Riggle plays the evil Joe Mentalino-type role in Dumb and Dumber To. Just as Harry and Lloyd accidentally killed Mentalino with hot peppers, they accidentally cause Riggle to get hit by a train. 
  • Riggle returns later in the movie as his "twin" brother. This joke is recycled not from Dumb and Dumber but from Beer Fest, when Landfill is survived by his twin brother Landfill 2.
  • Harry and Lloyd again embark on a cross-country adventure, to El Paso instead of Aspen. They drive a hearse and a Zamboni instead of a Sheepdog. And they play a fart-themed game to annoy their guest instead of playing their annoying version of tag. All in all, it's a pretty standard Harry-and-Lloyd excursion.
  • Many teenagers altered their prom attire after watching Harry and Lloyd rock ridiculous tuxedos to a classy gala. I know I made sure to bring a cane with which to sword-fight. In the new movie, Harry and Lloyd sneak into the prestigious KEN Conference and wipe their butt fungus all over their beers. Or something. 
  • As in any Jim Carrey role, Lloyd frequently resorts to slapstick. He resurrects two of my favorite in the new movie -- the exaggerated fake dry heave and the failed Binaca spray.
  • Just as we're privy to Lloyd's classic slapstick, we're treated to several throwback shots of Harry's plumber-asscrack.
  • In one of the least successful recycled jokes in the new movie, Harry and Lloyd drink a funeral parlor's embalming fluid. Much less funny than that cop drinking piss, followed by Harry offering him a Tic-Tac. Then again, most things are much less funny than that.
  • Just as he famously mistook an Austrian girl for an Australian in the opening of the first movie, Lloyd calls a Canadian a "Mexican guy."
  • Lloyd introduces us to the second-most annoying sound in the world, which consists of him ringing a doorbell an obnoxious number of times. Much less inspired than the most annoying sound in the world: 

  • One of Lloyd's most-quoted lines: "Yeah, he must work out." In the sequel, the guys are watching a feature on Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen when Harry comments about one of them being hot. Lloyd responds by explaining that's the reason Brady gets all the girls.
  • As in the first movie, Lloyd drops the "How 'bout a hug?" on a creeped-out hot chick. Lloyd's always plotting to cop a feel.
  • The first movie ended with the classic "two lucky guys" scene, in which our protagonists turned down a chance to become oil boys for a busload of bikini models. The sequel closes with a similar -- yet much less inspired -- joke. Harry and Lloyd approach two stunning, slo-mo-walking girls and discuss how this is finally their chance. Then, naturally, they push the hotties into a bush and high-five. Like I said, much less inspired. 
I could go on and on. Of course, I laughed out loud at many of these recycled jokes. But it wasn't the same kind of laughter that the original Dumb and Dumber elicited. As I watched the sequel, I felt the same way I feel when I watch current episodes of The Simpsons. I mean, it was somewhat funny, but so much less funny.

Now, not all parts of Dumb and Dumber To were recycled. A joke about a "grangina" (use your imagination) and an invented game called Funnel Nuts -- just to name a couple -- were pretty funny. Still, the fact that I had already seen a better version of 90% of the material left me just slightly less disappointed than Billy in 4C.

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Follow FranT on Twitter at @frantweet and follow Brian Kavanaugh at @btkav

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