Twenty years after they permanently lowered the bar on big, 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 desperation.
Harry visits a catatonic, bearded Lloyd in a rest home, only to learn he’s been the butt of Lloyd’s twenty-year-long practical joke. The come-uppance? Harry enlists two groundskeepers to help him yank out Lloyd’s catheter (after changing his colostomy bag, with his teeth, of course).
And they’re off, doubling up on a Schwinn to visit Harry’s aged, estranged Asian parents and then the aged, bloated floozy (Kathleen Turner, enduring jokes about her current appearance) who supposedly had Harry’s baby and gave her up for adoption, decades ago.
Harry needs a kidney. So the 50something “ten-year-olds” motor to Maryland and then El Paso in search of the dopey bombshell (Rachel Melvin, game but out of her depth) who might be his donor-daughter, a “genital donor match.”
The Farrellys, who peaked “artistically” with the raunchy, rude and yet romantic “There’s Something About Mary” in 1998, hurl miss-or-hit sight gags and throw-away lines at us. Harry looks over 20 years of mail his parents saved for him.
“Oh. I got into Arizona State!”
Six credited writers, with onetime funniest man alive Jim Carrey on the set, and you get malapropisms such as “It’s all water under the fridge,” and “”That’s just a suburban legend!”
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 here, 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 and gags to sustain them.
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. And 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 sad. 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, even in the wizened-but-not-wiser stars, who are 52 and 59, respectively.
It’s just that comedy left the Farrellys behind over ten years ago, and their best efforts at reviving their PG-13 Three Stooges style feel cllumsy, old-fashioned and tired.
And that warmth we feel in those promising early scenes? With luck, it’ll come out in the wash.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, partial nudity, language and some drug references
Cast: Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels, Kathleen Turner, Rachel Melvin, Rob Riggle, Laurie Holden
Credits: Directed by Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly, written by Sean Anders, Mike Cerrone, John Morris, Bennett Yellin and Peter and Bobby Farrelly. A Universal release.
Running time: 1:50