In Dumb and Dumber To, Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey) and Harry Dunne (Jeff Daniels) are back and as dumb as ever. It’s been exactly 20 years and Lloyd has to get snapped out of the comatose state that he’s been in, so that the two best friends can go on a road trip to find a child Harry never knew he had, in order to help him with the kidney transplant that he desperately needs. The zany sequel also stars Kathleen Turner, Laurie Holden, Rob Riggle, Rachel Melvin and Steve Tom.
At the film’s press day, filmmakers Peter and Bobby Farrelly spoke to Collider for this exclusive interview about why Dumb and Dumber is thought of as a cult classic, why people feel so fondly about two lovable idiots, whether they ever got close to doing this sequel at any other point in time, over the 20 years since the first film, how much they’ve learned about filmmaking since their three hour and 40 minute first cut of the original film (and the disastrous screening they had of that cut), the deleted storylines that will probably be on the DVD, why they don’t like extended cuts, doing unconventional commentary, their experience shooting on digital, and their desire to direct films on their own next. Check out what they had to say after the jump.
PETER FARRELLY: That’s interesting. That’s the first time anybody has ever asked that question. I never thought about that. They do call it a cult thing, and it wasn’t a cult thing. It was #1 for four weeks in a row at the box office.
BOBBY FARRELLY: It wasn’t monumental box office, but it was good box office.
PETER: It was #1 for four weeks in a row.
BOBBY: That’s good, but that was 20 years ago. What I think made it into cult status was how many times it was shown on TV, and how many times kids saw it. They’d watch it and start laughing at different things than when they saw it, originally. It could be the most viewed comedy, ever.
PETER: They say it’s the most pirated comedy in Chinese history. They say there are zillions of them floating around in China. It did grow in stature, over the years, too. When they came out, the reviews weren’t really nice. Some were, but most weren’t. Pauline Kael from the New Yorker came out of retirement to write a review and raved. I remember other critics noted that and were like, “Maybe this isn’t so bad.”
BOBBY: Their initial instinct was, “This is really dumb!” No kidding, it’s dumb!
PETER: We got, “This is the dumbest movie you’ll ever see!,” and we were like, “I hope so! It’s called Dumb and Dumber.”
When you have a movie that’s about these lovable idiots, were you surprised that people fell so fondly about them?
PETER: Well, that was the plan. The scene in the beginning of the first one, where Lloyd is at the window and is trying to talk Harry into going out to Aspen and he says, “Come on, man. I don’t have anyone and I don’t have anything.” And then, he looks out the window and actually gets misty. We did that on purpose. We said, “Play this straight. There’s no joke here.” And the studio said, “Cut that shit! That’s horrible! This is dumb. This is a comedy, and you’ve got these guys acting dramatic, all of a sudden.” We were like, “Look, in two minutes, he’s selling a dead bird to a blind kid in a wheelchair. You better like him.” That’s our theory. If you love these guys, then we can get way funnier than if you don’t like them. That’s the first thing we thought of – the niceness, the innocence and the sweetness. They are children, so you forgive then. They are not malicious. They’re not mean.
BOBBY: It’s not Mean and Meaner. It’s Dumb and Dumber.
PETER: Not really, no. We didn’t think about doing a sequel until they started talking about a sequel for There’s Something About Mary, and we thought, “Why?! There’s no sequel there.” And then, we thought, “If we were gonna do a sequel, how about Dumb and Dumber?” Around that time, Jim [Carrey] had millions of things going on, so he had no interest. We talked to Jeff [Daniels] and he said, “I’m in. Just tell me when.” But then, it didn’t come up again. When they did the prequel, Dumb and Dumberer, the studio approached us and said, “Do you guys want to do this?” And we said, “No!”
BOBBY: That was the time we probably could have done a sequel ‘cause that was around 10 years later, and it had started to gain that cult status that we talked about. But they went and made this ridiculous prequel and that derailed everything. Fortunately, not too many people saw that movie.
PETER: Jim was the one who turned it around, five years ago. He watched it in a hotel, from beginning to end, and called me and said, “We’ve gotta do another. This is too good. I love it, and I love the guys’ love for each other.” What struck him was how much those two guys cares about each other, ultimately, and he wanted that feeling back. And then, we started getting into it. But, it does feel that the stars have aligned. It is exactly 20 years. We didn’t plan that.
BOBBY: It’s almost to the day of the release.
PETER: The first one came out on December 16, 1994.
And Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels don’t look 20 years older.
BOBBY: It doesn’t really show on them. They both have held up pretty well.
PETER: After the first screening, a projectionist came up to me and said, “How much did that cost?” I said, “What?” And he said, “The CGI.” I said, “There’s not a lot of CGI. We’ve got the cat on the ceiling fan.” And he said, “No, to make them look like they did in the first movie.” But, we didn’t do anything. We did do CGI in one scene, when he’s in the back of the van with young Fraida. We took his face down a little in that scene, at the very end, because it’s supposed to be years earlier.
PETER: We learned, after the first one. We didn’t know. It was our first movie, so we assembled it and we were so excited to show what we had to anyone. We showed them a three hour and 40 minute cut with no music and no color timing, and we realized that people don’t know what they’re looking at. They think you’re saying, “This is the movie,” and we weren’t saying that. We were saying, “Help us pick the best scenes.” It’s asking a lot to have someone sit there for three hours and 40 minutes, and I remember the response was not good. They came out like, “Fuck you!”
BOBBY: Those were our old friends. We don’t even see any of those people anymore. The first guy we asked was one of my best friends, and he said, “It’s the worst!” We said, “The worst what?” And he said, “The worst I’ve ever seen! The color is awful. There’s no music. It makes no sense. It’s fucking awful!”
PETER: We realized that you don’t do that. So, the next time we screened it, we edited it down to two hours, and it was a movie. People could put up with it. We’ve never done that again, but we just didn’t know. You live and learn.
Are there many deleted scenes, this time around?
PETER: Oh, yeah. We had a whole backstory about Harry. We know what Lloyd was doing for 20 years, but we don’t know what Harry was doing. We had a backstory where he explained what he’s been doing, and it was good, but it took up a lot of space, early on when we had to get on with the show. He went out with a little person for a long time, and he said that she was really, really sexy. He said, “She was 36, 24, 36, and that was just her head.” And then, he wrote a book. He got into the whole New Age thing and wrote a book, called Eat, Sleep, Shit, which didn’t take off.
BOBBY: We spent a lot of time introducing the daughter, Penny, too. But the way the movie came, the plot had to get on. That’s what happens. You don’t know what you’re gonna take out later.
PETER: You’ve gotta keep moving along, and we were taking too long to get going, so we had to cut a few things. We’ll probably put it on the DVD. Basically, we feel this is the best version, or we would have kept it in. Those extended versions occasionally get shown on TV, and you’re like, “No!,” because there was a reason it was cut.
Why do you like to do DVD commentary that isn’t really related to the actual filmmaking? Is that more fun for you?
PETER: We didn’t know there was another way. That’s just the way we did it. We were like, “Oh, there’s my friend Steve. I met him in 5th grade. He had the bullfrog in high school.” And then, people would say, “Hey, we like how you do that!” And we were like, “What do you mean? What are other people doing?” And they were like, “They talk about lenses and lighting.” We were like, “Really?! We didn’t know that!” We’re just going along and learning as we go. More than anything, we’re writers first. We’ve directed a bunch of movies and we have learned more and more, but we’re really focused on telling the story, and structurally setting up that story and making sure that story comes on screen. We’re not technically great at filmmaking, but we surround ourselves with people who are. Our goal is to keep the camera out of the storytelling. We don’t want to draw attention to it and remind you that you’re watching a movie. We do that very rarely.
BOBBY: It breaks frame. It breaks the fourth wall. You’re reminded, “Oh, that’s right, there’s a crew around these guys.” And we don’t ever want anyone to think that. We just want them to think that this is Harry and Lloyd, and they’re on a journey and this is their story.
How was your experience shooting this on digital?
PETER: We discussed it with our D.P. and we were like, “What does this mean? What do you mean, we’re doing it digitally?” And he said, “It means you can go faster. It means you don’t have to change film.” I said, “But what does it look like?” And he said, “It’s gonna look different.” And then, we said, “Well, we don’t want it to look different. We want it to look like the first one.” So, he said, “Well then, at the end, we have to go in and put in grain to make it look like that.” I said, “So why wouldn’t you just shoot it on film?” And he said, “Because film is going to slow you down.” Basically, I ultimately said to the D.P., “Okay, are we gonna like it this way?” And he said, “You’re gonna love it. You’re not gonna know the difference, and it’s gonna help us.”
BOBBY: The main guy who’s selling you on going to digital is the guy with the pen in his hand ‘cause it’s cheaper. You don’t have to buy all that film. In their opinion, it looks virtually the same. I think the cinematographer would much rather shoot on film because he loves the contrast.
PETER: But you can lay that in at the end, and they did. By the way, they showed it to me and I couldn’t tell the difference. I didn’t see it.
Do you guys have any idea what you’re going to do next?
PETER: We’re thinking of each doing our own thing next, but we’re not exactly positive.
BOBBY: This movie was a big fish to get on the boat. We’ve been working on it for awhile, so we’ve had a single-minded focus. But, we always do have other things in mind. I just don’t think we have anything far enough along to say for sure.
PETER: We’re working on the new Project Greenlight. We’re the judges with Matt [Damon] and Ben [Affleck]. It’s a different thing. It’s a director’s competition. Normally, in the past, it’s been a screenwriting competition, but this year it’s a director’s competition. The four of us have a professionally written script that he’s going to direct, which is a better way of doing it. They’ve never really hit a home run with the movie because they had a guy write a script, and then they’d say, “You direct it,” but he’d have no clue. So this year, they’re finding the best director. That’s been fun.
Dumb and Dumber To opens in theaters on November 14th.