The whippit-high bliss of the Farrelly brothers' directorial debut Dumb & Dumber comes from just how much it delivers on its title — it's one gleefully idiotic joke after another, no moral to be delivered, no age of which to come. It doesn't matter if a gag falls flat, because dozens of others will follow, all intended to do nothing more than make you snort soda out your nose. It is a symphony in the key of stupid.
In the 20 years since Dumb & Dumber's release, the Farrellys made some great films (like There's Something About Mary) and, more recently, a bunch of indifferent ones (like Hall Pass). Jeff Daniels brilliantly played a middle-aged disappointment (The Squid and the Whale) and became an Aaron Sorkin fantasy figure (The Newsroom). Jim Carrey cemented his place as a comedy superstar.
But Dumb & Dumber To, which hits theaters this weekend, proves that in two decades, Lloyd Christmas (Carrey) and Harry Dunne (Daniels) haven't done a thing. (Well, technically there was that terrible 2003 prequel, but let's never speak of that again.)
1. Dumb and Dumber To is basically a time travel comedy without actual time travel. It's about a pair of doofuses who will never learn anything — the world chugs along, but they stay comfortingly, doomedly the same, having easily whiled away two decades on a prank. (In that way, this feels like a better version of the movie the Farrellys tried to make when they dropped the Three Stooges into the present day in their last feature.) On the plus side, Harry and Lloyd have maintained an appreciation for insane tricks and fart jokes that seems to keep them pretty entertained.
2. The movie also recycles many of the beats of the first film (with a murder plot instead of a kidnapping one, Rob Riggle instead of Mike Starr, El Paso instead of Aspen, Rachel Melvin instead of Lauren Holly), but that's... kind of fitting. It's not really another adventure so much as a chance to hop back into Harry and Lloyd's oblivious, cheery existence. When there's a bit that references Breaking Bad, it's jarring — Harry and Lloyd are more timeless than that, like diamonds and jokes about getting hit in the balls.
3. It's not as funny as the first film. But it's still very funny.
4. Its best laugh is also its simplest — and comes from the majestic way in which Lloyd eats a hot dog.
5. Its worst bit involves some creaky, vaguely racist gags about Asian accents. They sour an otherwise entertaining sequence involving Harry's parents, and don't really manage to be the joke on Lloyd's ignorance the movie seems to be aiming for.
6. Harry and Lloyd are terrible people, but they're lovable because they don't really have any idea — the destruction they leave in their wake and the horrendously insensitive things that they do and say never register to them. They have no clue that Travis (Riggle) — who's accompanying them on a road trip — is evil, but they also don't pick up on the fact that their prank war with him is basically violent torture. To be fair, they frequently do the same sort of damage to themselves too.
8. Carrey has proven how good he can be as a serious actor in things like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, but his rubber-faced antics in Dumb and Dumber To are almost enough to make you believe he's wasted when not playing Lloyd Christmas. No other actor working today is as gifted a physical comedian, and few directors take as much pleasure in physical comedy as the Farrellys.
9. Dumb and Dumber To makes the case that the Farrellys haven't changed much in 20 years of directing, either — they may be gifted with timing, but their movies still look ramshackle, just a step above a comedy sketch.
10. It's Carrey and Daniels' movie, but Riggles gets some very funny bits. The women (Kathleen Turner, Laurie Holden, and Rachel Melvin) fare less well in terms of opportunities for laughs (Turner's actually treated a little cruelly). The exception is 79-year-old Jo Wintker, who throws herself into her random bawdy bit with delightful abandon, and says, "You can cross that one off your bucket list!" with Oscar-worthy relish.
11. The end credits juxtapose 1994 Harry and Lloyd with the 2014 versions, and it's weirdly melancholy, like some idiot tribute to Boyhood. Time works on us all, even on those who cheerfully refuse to take one damn thing from its passing. Maybe you don't need to be smarter, bigger, or more ambitious — maybe being gloriously dumb can, once in a while, be enough.