[Screen It]


(2014) (Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels) (PG-13)

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Comedy: Two dimwitted friends set out to find the daughter one has only just learned about, all in hopes of getting her to donate a kidney to him.
Lloyd Christmas (JIM CARREY) and Harry Dunne (JEFF DANIELS) are two dimwitted men who've been friends forever, through thick and thin. When they visit Harry's parents in hopes of having one of them donate a kidney to him, they not only learn he was adopted, but also -- via a postcard dated from 22 years ago -- that Harry fathered a child. Thinking his offspring might be a donor match, they visit Fraida Felcher (KATHLEEN TURNER), the girl's mother who states she once tried to contact her daughter, but her letter was returned unopened.

Using the address from that, Lloyd and Harry travel to Maryland but just miss Penny (RACHEL MELVIN) who's headed off to a conference of big minds in El Paso. They learn this from her adoptive father, Dr. Pinchelow (STEVE TOM), who's too ill to travel to that conference, and Penny's stepmother, Adele (LAURIE HOLDEN).

Unbeknownst to Dr. Pinchelow, she's plotting to kill him with the assistance of their handyman, Travis (ROB RIGGLE), who thinks he knows a thing or two about such matters due to having a twin brother, Capt. Lippincott (ROB RIGGLE), who's a Special Ops warrior. With Travis in tow, Lloyd and Harry then set off on a road trip to find Penny and hope that she has a kidney she can donate to Harry.

OUR TAKE: 4 out of 10
One of the more famous lines from the 1994 film "Forrest Gump" was Tom Hanks' titular character stating, "Stupid is as stupid does," a bit of wisdom imparted upon him by his caring mom played by Sally Field. Obviously inspired by that, one of the promotional posters for a film that came out just five months later featured its two central characters seated on a park bench, much like Mr. Gump, starring up at the poster for their very own movie.

Those two characters were Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne, the actors playing them were Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels, and their film was the appropriately titled "Dumb and Dumber." Marking the feature film debut of the brotherly filmmaking duo of Peter Farrelly and Bobby Farrelly, the film grossed $127 million ($241 million in 2014 dollars) and set up the siblings for a successful run through Hollywood with hits such as "Kingpin," "There's Something About Mary" and "Shallow Hal."

But they haven't had a hit in more than a decade, and Carrey hasn't exactly been lighting up the box office either (notwithstanding the 2009 version of "A Christmas Carol" where he wasn't really appearing as himself, at least in usual visual form). Accordingly, it's not that surprising that they've reunited with Daniels for the appropriately silly titled sequel, "Dumb and Dumber To."

Since it's been twenty years since I saw the original, I have to admit that I remember next to nothing from it, save for the sophomoric tone, bad haircuts, Carrey's chipped tooth, and some sort of vehicle dressed up like a furry dog briefly flying through the air at some point. Thus, I wasn't eagerly anticipating this follow-up, but I was ready to give the film a chance. After all, I'm readily watch any "dumb" movie as long as it's smartly done or, at minimum, gets me to laugh aloud more than a few times.

While it goes on far too long for a pic of this sort (clocking in just short of 2 hours) and clearly has many more misses than hits (although one's appreciation of sophomoric humor will have a huge impact on that count), I have to admit it succeeds -- at least occasionally -- on that latter part. As I don't recall how the original ended, I can't say that this follow-up picks up where it concluded, but I'm guessing not since it's stated that Carrey's character, now looking quite a bit older than the last time we saw him back in the Gump era, has been catatonic for the past two decades in a psychiatric institute. His buddy (Daniels) is about to give up on him, until he reveals he just faked that condition (including the necessity of adult diaper changes on Harry's part) as an elaborate "gotcha."

The plot, if you will, then begins when Harry learns he fathered a daughter long ago, a discovery that comes in handy since he's in need of a kidney transplant and she'd be the most likely candidate for donation. After meeting with the girl's mother (Kathleen Turner), they set off for Maryland to find Penny (Rachel Melvin), only to have just missed her on the way out to a big brain convention in El Paso. They set out to follow her and end up accompanied by the handyman (Rob Riggle) who works for her stepmother (Laurie Holden), both of whom are actively plotting to kill her adoptive father (Steve Tom) for his money.

And that's essentially all of the skeletal plot structure that screenwriters Sean Anders and John Morris have offered up for the Farrellys (who again share the director's seat) and their cast to work with in trying to elicit laughs. Some of the dialogue is of the true groaner status ("Hook, line and sphincter," "Deaf as a bat," etc.), and some of the crude humor is more gross (including a way of getting fresh drinks that involves a hand down the back of one's pants) than inspired or hilarious (such as what more commonly occurred in the brothers' best work, "There's Something About Mary").

That said, I'll admit that, against my better judgment and higher tastes, I laughed out loud quite a few times, as did most everyone else at our preview screening. Carrey and Daniels are certainly game for trying anything for laughs, and fans of them and especially their earlier portrayal of these characters will likely welcome their return with a big ol' grin on their faces.

It's just too bad that more of the material didn't hit on a more regular basis, or that the script wasn't better in both setting up and delivering on the various gags and overall storyline. Yes, films about dumb characters can be smart, witty and highly creative, if handled just right, but this one often feels quick and sloppy rather than inspired and brilliant. Not as bad as I feared and providing more laughs than I anticipated, "Dumb and Dumber To" has some entertaining moments, but not enough to warrant a rating higher than 4 out of 10.

Reviewed November 12, 2014 / Posted November 14, 2014

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