Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd
Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels and the Farrelly Brothers wisely sit out of this tardy prequel to 1994's gleefully silly tribute to the joy of blissful ignorance, which reveals how lovable idiots Harry and Lloyd became best pals.
After nine grueling years, we can finally stop wondering what happened that fateful day when Lloyd Christmas (Eric Christian Olsen, subbing for Carrey) first crossed paths with fellow dimwit Harry Dunne (Derek Richardson, replacing Daniels). It's 1986, the first day of the new school year, and our two IQ-challenged heroes literally run into each other as they race to class. Before you can screech annoyingly, they're bosom buddies and the star pupils in the school's special-needs class. Only the class is a scam organized by the conniving Principal Collins (Eugene Levy) to bilk the high school of a $100,000 grant. Of course, there's no doubt these oblivious oafs will ruin Collins' plan to run off to Hawaii with horny lunch lady Ms. Heller (Cheri Oteri). Unfortunately, we must first endure the forced and blatant rehashing of Dumb and Dumber's funniest moments. Cue bathroom mishaps, endless games of tag, a fire at a gas station and fights over a beautiful but attached gal (Rachel Nichols). Director Troy Miller even ends this shameless exercise in redundancy by duplicating the predecessor's hilarious final scene featuring scantily clad beauties. Miller and co-writer Robert Brener also offer very few new nuggets of information about the wheeler-dealing Lloyd and the sweet Harry. We do find out how Lloyd chipped one of his front teeth, but that's pretty much it. By the time school's out, it's clear that it's less fun watching juveniles act like juveniles than watching men act like juveniles.
''Imitation is the sincerest form of plagiarism,'' Carrey recently quipped to David Letterman about Dumb and Dumberer. He's right. With his bowl-head haircut and chipped tooth, the gangly, jug-eared Olsen could easily pass for a pimply faced teen-age Carrey. Close your eyes and you'll even swear it's Carrey uttering Lloyd's catchphrase, ''I like it a lot!'' But Olsen doesn't possess Carrey's uncanny elasticity. His facial contortions look taut and strained, not rubbery. And that robs this prequel of much of its comic possibilities. That said, Olsen's undaunted by the task of making audiences believe he's not a pretender to the porcelain throne. He's always working to wring out as many giggles as possible from the lazy and inane script, no matter how humiliating. Richardson, however, doesn't even try to muster as much as half of Olsen's energy and enthusiasm. He sleep-walks through the mayhem, waking up to occasionally run his fingers through his unruly blonde 'do or to shoot off fretful glances whenever the going gets tough. The dumbest thing about the film, though, is that it gives Levy nothing to do except grope the game Oteri. You can't fault him for being bored, embarrassed and unwilling to bring down this house with his customary scene-stealing antics. That leaves Bob Saget--of all people!--to provide the film's sole guffaw. All he's required to do is repeat an expletive--think fecal matter--again and again. But he's so consumed with spewing out this cuss-word that you wonder whether he's just releasing his pent-up frustrations about what his post-Full House career has amounted to. Who can blame him?
Congratulations, Troy Miller, you've done the impossible: make the fart-friendly Farrelly Brothers look like comedy sophisticates. Miller knows what's amusing and what isn't--he's worked for HBO's hilarious Mr. Show and Tenacious D. But he treats Dumb and Dumberer as nothing more than a cheap and cheerless attempt to belatedly exploit one of Carrey's early rubber-faced farces. Needless to say, this is not the best way make us forget Harry and Lloyd's fitfully funny cross-country trek in their shaggin' wagon. Miller displays no respect for the Farrelly Brothers' commitment to passionate and painstaking execution of even the most simplest and crudest of gags. He merely bangs everything out with a minimal interest in style or originality. So there's no pleasure to be found in Harry and Lloyd's classroom disasters or their Jackass-inspired cart ride. He's also very sloppy with trying to maintain the facade of the 1980s. It's tough imagining you're back in the Me Decade when he has Lloyd prancing like the village idiot to Vanilla Ice's 1990 cringe-inducing ''Ice Ice Baby'' or he neglects to remove from a store rack a magazine with Chelsea Clinton on the cover. Then again, perhaps Miller couldn't afford to hire someone to keep an eye on such Reagan era-related errors. So, just how cut-rate is Dumb and Dumberer? Check out Lloyd's chipped tooth-it looks like someone barely remembered to black it out with a marker pen.
No Jim Carrey. No Jeff Daniels. No Farrelly Brothers. No laughs. No reason to part with your hard-earned $7.