Examining The Lasting Awesomeness Of ‘Dumb & Dumber’

Above: Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels in the 1994 film, 'Dumb & Dumber'
Above: Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels in the 1994 film, 'Dumb & Dumber'

There is a good chance that this month’s 20-years-later sequel to Dumb & Dumber is going to be awful.

As much as the idea of seeing Harry Dunne and Lloyd Christmas back together and on another adventure churns up nostalgic feelings about the first movie, Dumb & Dumber To feels more like an effort to rekindle something that has faded by writers/directors The Farrelly Brothers and perhaps even Canadian comic Jim Carrey. Quite frankly, that’s the exact opposite of what helped make the first movie so amazing.

Dumb & Dumber hit theatres long before dick and fart jokes became de rigueur and collaborative teams like Judd Apatow’s ensemble or the guys that brought you Anchorman brought simple, juvenile comedy back to the masses. Not that Hollywood was decidedly high brow, but movies about two idiots that get caught up in a kidnapping scheme running amock weren’t the norm, nor were the things The Farrelly Brothers found funny.

At the same time, people were still very much into Jim Carrey when the first movie hit – he was riding high off the back-to-back successes of Ace Ventura and The Mask and could do no wrong. Jeff Daniels was the perfect sidekick too, as he was a credible actor who hadn’t really distinguished himself to any great extent. His most commercial role before Dumb & Dumber was probably Arachnaphobia and the fact that he was shifting to goofball comedy was an intriguing move.

While there were tons of critics and snobs that panned the film for being, well, exactly what it set out to be, the public embraced it as the movie that cost $17 million to make brought home nearly $250 million worldwide. More importantly than the major haul it brought in at the box office, Dumb & Dumber introduced all kinds of phrases, deliveries and call-and-answers into our language that people still use daily.

How many friends do you have that still say “So you’re saying there’s a chance” whenever they’re faced with long odds?

How many times have you shouted, “Kick his ass, Sea Bass!” to someone that is not former Boston Bruins forward Cam Neely playing the role of a truck stop restroom assailant?

Chances are you still know somebody that says, “I like it a lot” in that genuine Lloyd Christmas delivery and you’ve held down both parts of the Mockingbird song a time or two.

Dumb & Dumber was stupid without being too far over the top. It was silly and playful with a hint of heart. You could pull for the tandem dimwits driving the Mutt Cutts van (“They’re driving an ’84… sheepdog”) to Aspen (“Hmmmm, California! Beautiful!”) in hopes of giving Mary Samsonite back the briefcase she forgot at the airport. Every little bit of idiocy was letter perfect and made a lasting impression. Twenty years later, it’s still highly watchable.

The sequel, however, looks bad. Real bad. Like “Why would you do this to us?” bad.

Part of that is because Carrey is now 52 and coming off a couple duds, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone and Kick-Ass 2. Though he was great spoofing Matthew McConaughey’s Lincoln commerical on Saturday Night Live, it’s been a good long while since anyone was amped up about a Jim Carrey flick.

Same goes for The Farrelly Brothers. They went on a nice little run after Dumb & Dumber, treating everyone to Kingpin and There’s Something About Mary, but recently it has been duds like Hall Pass and The Three Stooges, not to mention their bastardization of Fever Pitch.

From the trailers and clips available online, Dumb & Dumber To looks forced and unfunny, which is too bad because the first one was genius and has stood the test of time.

“Big Gulps, huh? All right! Well, see you later.”

E. Spencer Kyte

E. Spencer Kyte

E. Spencer Kyte is a freelance journalist based in Abbotsford, British Columbia, where he lives with his wife and dog. In addition to his work here, he writes about sports for Complex Canada and covers the UFC for various outlets. His mom also still tells him what to do on a regular basis, even though he’s nearly 40. He tweets from @spencerkyte.

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