Returning to characters years after the fact is usually a recipe for disaster, as is making a comedy sequel. Who wouldn’t want to erase such missteps as Caddyshack II, The Godfather Part III, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and Anchorman 2? Bringing back Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels for Dumb and Dumber To was almost certain to be a losing proposition. But, though it fails to capture the highs of the first film, the characters – who are rooted in a Three Stooges-esque sensibility – and the actors are surprisingly pliable, and the results are reasonably entertaining. Bobby and Peter Farrelly return to the helm for this sequel, which may be more charming than laugh out loud funny, but still delivers solid amounts of amusement.
The film begins with Lloyd Christmas (Carrey) in a home where he’s been staying for the last twenty years. Thought to be in a coma, he finally reveals he’s been faking to Harry Donne (Daniels) after Harry reveals he may have to leave for a while, which starts the movie off on an inspired note. The two return to their mostly unaltered apartment (though Harry has a new roommate in a gag that isn’t half as funny as the person playing him), and it’s there that Harry reveals his kidneys are failing so he needs to maybe get a blood relative to donate one to him. Though he hadn’t talked ot his parents in years, he returns home only to find out that he was adopted, but also that he sired a child with Fraida Felcher back in the day. The boys eventually find Fraida (Kathleen Turner), who tells them she gave the child up for adoption, which sets them on their quest – and which Lloyd is more than happy to join in on when he finds out that the daughter is hot.
They go to the daughter’s home, where they find they have just missed meeting Penny (Rachel Melvin), who – from all evidence – is as stupid as Harry, and are told where she will be by her adopted father Dr. Pinchelow (Steve Tom), and given a box which supposedly contains an invention worth billions. It turns out that Dr. Pinchelow’s current wife Adele (Laurie Holden) is trying to murder him with the help of their manservant Travis (Rob Riggle), and so Adele schemes to get the box away from Harry and Lloyd, and sets up Travis to murder the duo and Penny. This means the road trip is initially a threesome, which doesn’t go well for Travis as Harry and Lloyd are just as annoying as they were twenty years ago, and though this sequence bears some similarities to their time spent with Mike Starr’s character in the first film, it goes in enough different directions to be amusing. Penny, substituting for her father, is supposed to give the keynote speech at the (not Ted Talk) Ken Convention, and it’s there that a number of revelations are made, including that Harry might not be Penny’s father after all, and that it could be Lloyd.
With the triple threat of Dumb and Dumber, Kingpin and There’s Something About Mary, the Farrelly brothers were the kings of comedy in the nineties, but after a number of misfires and the rise of reference comedy, they were eventually supplanted by the Judd Apatow/Seth Rogen/Adam McKay crowd. Because there haven’t been many comedies like Dumb and Dumber for a while, one of the biggest pleasures of the sequel is that it’s nice to return to a different (albeit familiar) comic voice that favors meaner jokes. Harry and Lloyd’s immeasurable stupidity is a lot of fun to gawk at as they find amazing ways to not understand and misinterpret things.
Sometimes the film goes a little too far as it sometimes insults people to the point that it’s cringe-worthy (Kathleen Turner gets some jabs thrown at her appearance that feel a little too mean spirited, but she’s at least game enough to take them), as the best jokes are when the duo are just so blazingly ignorant it only reflects poorly on them, but as has always been the case with the Farrellys, the batting average is good. There are misses – even though the cameo makes it, that Harry’s roommate is essentially Walter White doesn’t feel like much of a joke – and some of the callbacks are belabored, but for the most part the laughs are there. Seeing Harry and Lloyd riding a Zamboni cross-country is exactly who these idiots are. It’s not an all-timer, but in the face of something like Anchorman 2, which felt like reruns, this has enough life to be worth watching, even if there are some diminishing returns.
Universal’s Blu-ray comes with a DVD and digital copy and the film is presented in widescreen (1.85:1) and in DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio. As with most modern releases, it looks and sounds as good as it did in theaters. The packaging plays up the film’s first supplement, an alternate opening (2 min.), but that’s mostly an extra gag that probably shouldn’t have been cut. There are also eight deleted/extended scenes (10 min.) that are mostly just additional gags as well, or slightly recut versions of scenes in the film. This is followed by a gag reel (8 min.), and all this additional footage is slight. I was hoping for a glimpse at Jennifer Lawrence, who supposedly filmed a cameo for the movie, but the role I thought she might have played is seemingly filled by someone else as is revealed in the making of (45 min.), which is titled “That’s Awesome!” Hosted by actor Steve Tom, the behind the scenes footage is mixed in with random people on the street who love the original, and the making of plays up the similarities between the two films. Rounding out the supplements is the piece “What’s So Smart About Dumb and Dumber To” (6 min.) which mixes cast and crew talking about how smart you have to be to play dumb with a psychologist talking about the benefits of watching something stupid and it’s weak.