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(2003) (Eric Christian Olsen, Derek Richardson) (PG-13)

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Comedy: Two dimwitted young men meet in high school and inadvertently help a school reporter expose their corrupt principal.
Lloyd Christmas (ERIC CHRISTIAN OLSEN) and Harry Dunne (DEREK RICHARDSON) aren't the brightest bulbs in the universe, or even their high school where they meet. Harry has been home schooled by his mom (MIMI ROGERS), while Lloyd actually lives in the high school with his custodian dad, Ray (LUIS GUZMAN), but still goes outside to catch the bus back to where he just left.

Little do they know that Principal Collins (EUGENE LEVY) and his lover, lunch lady Ms. Heller (CHERI OTERI), have conspired to use the two as the basis for a special needs class. Collins hopes to pocket the promised $100,000 grant money for himself, with Heller serving as their teacher and encouraging them to recruit other students for their class.

Among those chosen is Turk (ELDEN HENSON), the class bully; Carl (WILLIAM LEE SCOTT) the football player; Lewis (SHIA LaBEOUF) who works as a costumed mascot; skateboarder Toby (JOSH BRAATEN); his new girlfriend Terri (TEAL REDMANN) and foreign student Ching Chong (MICHELLE KRUSIEC). None is mentally slow, but they join the class since it means they won't have to do any regular schoolwork.

However, school newspaper reporter Jessica Matthews (RACHEL NICHOLS) becomes suspicious of the class and Collins' activities. With the purposeful and accidental help from Lloyd and Harry, she then sets out to expose the corruption and ruse.

OUR TAKE: 2 out of 10
Until digital actors take care of the aging problems that plague their flesh and blood counterparts, filmmakers are going to continue having a devil of a time dealing with performers who rudely keep getting older. That's particularly true when it comes to having them playing recurring roles, such as the repeated threats, um, reports that Harrison Ford is going to return to play Indiana Jones yet again.

Director Steven Spielberg and his team partially solved that problem in the last film by going back in time to show the character as a boy (but, alas, even that won't work next time around since the actor who played young Indie, River Phoenix, is no longer with us).

I don't think that the public has been clamoring - or at least has been perceived as doing so - as much for a return of Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne, the cranially impaired duo in the 1994 comedy hit, "Dumb and Dumber." Even so, that's never stopped any studio from trying to reap the benefits of what it's previously sown.

While the film's original stars - Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels -- are only around 10 years older than the first time around, I'm betting that it's Carrey's price tag - reportedly well north of $20 million a picture - rather than age that's been a sticking point for bringing back the duo.

The solution? Why, rather than pay the sum and see a later day version of the characters, simply go back in time and show how they met, using new performers to play the younger parts in the prequel to the original.

The result is "Dumb & Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd," a film that takes place in the characters' "formative" high school years and has Eric Christian Olsen replacing Carrey and Derek Richardson doing the same regarding Daniels.

While the casting is inspired - at least from a physical resemblance and occasionally pitch-perfect impersonations of the previous actors' mannerisms and vocal patterns - the rest of the movie is a flop. Granted, the original lived up to its name and clearly wasn't an Oscar winner, piece of art or even a good film. Yet, it has some truly funny, if gross and moronic moments. Alas, that's not the case here.

In keeping with the tone of the first film, this one is filled with all sorts of crude and idiotic humor. Yet, without the "touch" of the original brotherly filmmakers - Peter and Bobby Farrelly - much of the material falls completely flat. As they say, the proof is in the pudding and despite initially seeming gung-ho for the offering, few at our screening laughed and many sat in stony silence, including yours truly.

Simply put, writer/director Troy Miller ("Jack Frost") and co-screenwriter Robert Brener (making his debut) don't push the material hard or far enough. Although I realize saying the following is oxymoronic, the varied attempts at stupid and sophomoric humor are never smart, clever or imaginative enough to make them work.

Yes, I know it was going to be dumb and sophomoric like its predecessor, and I'm not above laughing at such material if it's handled just right. Yet, little of the humor works and none of it successfully builds on what's been laid down before it.

In fact, and despite following a long line and tradition of cinematic buffoons and imbeciles whose humor arises from their actions, reactions and ability to complicate matters due to the first two qualities, these two characters have been surpassed by the likes of Beavis and Butt-head and Jay and Silent Bob in terms of laughs.

As those two main characters, Eric Christian Olsen ("The Hot Chick," "Not Another Teen Movie") and Derek Richardson (making his feature debut) look and act the parts, but little if any of the material they're given is amusing, let alone hilarious (as has often been the case - if inconsistently - with the Farrelly Bros. previous work).

There's the standard crude humor such as chocolate and mud being mistaken for feces - resulting in Bob Saget's cameos consisting of him screaming and repeatedly using the "s" word (Yeah, boy, that's really funny). Various innuendos are also present, including the subtle and not so subtle gay material regarding Harry and Lloyd, just as occurred in the first film.

Such sexual comments also involve the school newspaper reporter played by Rachel Nichols (making her debut) who ends up being the only thing that drives the listless plot forward. Eugene Levy ("Bringing Down the House," the "American Pie" movies) and Cheri Oteri ("Scary Movie," TV's "Saturday Night Live") appear in the related subplot playing a corrupt principal and his lunch lady lover.

That material is far more akin to what one would expect from a "Saturday Night Live" skit than Levy's work in efforts such as "A Mighty Wind." Like the rest of the film, the material isn't clever or funny and falls completely flat.

Various other performers appear as other students, while Mimi Rogers ("Lost in Space," "Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery") and Luis Guzman ("Anger Management," "Confidence") make brief cameos as the separate and proud parents of the boys. Not surprisingly, none can do anything with their weakly written parts.

Fairly tame when compared to its more recent R-rated counterparts (thus making it less attractive to teens) and simply not funny or clever enough in its stupid humor (thus driving away adult viewers), this is a picture that certainly befits its title, but not in a good way. Other than the dead-on impersonations - whose charm quickly wears thin and then off - there's no reason to waste your money on this lame effort. "Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd" rates as just a 2 out of 10.

Reviewed June 11, 2003 / Posted June 13, 2003

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