don’t know about you, but my head hurts from all these eccentric
eggheads and arrogant geniuses monopolizing movie screens this fall. Isn’t science the last thing you want to muse about while munching
popcorn laced with who-knows-what chemical agents in order to provide
that noxious fake butter taste?
of these titles are the usual top-of-the-line Oscar bait that is to be
expected at this time of year. Yet, Hollywood in its less-than-infinite
wisdom has decided to bunch up all the brainy titles and bring them out
within weeks of each other. “Interstellar” is steeped in perplexing
wormholes, black holes and, yes, plot holes. “The Theory of
Everything” manages to explain at least one wonder of the universe with
nothing more than a box of Tide detergent. With its animated squad of
tech-savvy titans, “Big Hero 6” is practically Disney-fied nerd porn.
“The Imitation Game” reveals that crossword puzzle addicts, chess champs
and brilliant mathematicians were the secret heroes of World War II.
just when I’ve had my fill of films that make me feel intellectually
inferior, along comes the directing and writing team of Peter and Bobby
Farrelly with the much-delayed sequel to their hit debut, “Dumb and
don’t have to wait much to be reminded of what you are in for. The
first collective “Ewww!” is uttered by the audience within minutes. That
the slapstick segment ends with a painful attempt to yank out a
catheter, which causes those watching to alternate between groans and
guffaws, shows that the boys still can get a rise out of a crowd.
it a great movie? Only if you define great as the number of times one
of the leads is shown having his adult diapers changed baby-style by the
other lead (in this case, numerous). Is it a good movie? Only if you
think the sight of a cat high on meth wildly swinging from a chandelier
in the background is hilarious. Is it an occasionally insulting and
out-of-touch movie? Only if you think racist jokes aimed at Mexicans,
Asians and even Canadians or ugly sexist taunts directed at a woman of a
certain age who happens to be Kathleen Turner are offensive.
I laughed—enough to feel mortified at myself. I confess I did
chuckle heartily at the sign that read “The Barbara Hershey Highway.”
That means I am human. It also means that “Dumb and Dumber To” is, at
the very least, an occasionally funny movie.
It has been 20 long years since the brothers staked their claim as
gross-out comedy kings with the original “Dumb and Dumber.” But, as
anyone who watches cable news shows or reality series knows, the world
has yet to tire of observing nincompoops. Besides, what says happy
holidays more than a crude buddy romp with a cornucopia of bathroom
humor and gags involving a smorgasbord of bodily fluids? Most telling:
What used to be R is now quaintly PG-13.
that the sibling sultans of stupidity have improved much as artists.
The Farrellys have always lacked any sort of visual flair save for their
love of butt shots. Their films often look a little grimy and in need
of a good squeegeeing, as do many of their characters. And the
storylines feel like extended Three Stooges shorts—so much so that
their last movie was their version of three strung-together Curly, Larry
and Moe episodes.
These stupidity specialists are at least smart enough to do some things
right. The brothers managed to reunite the original stars, Jim Carrey
and Jeff Daniels, as they reprise their roles as Lloyd Christmas (his
surname begets this absurd exchange: “As in the holiday?” “No,” says
Lloyd, “as in the tree.”) and Harry Dunne. You can sense how hungry
Carrey is to sink his chipped front tooth (the real one he also exposed
in the original) into this odiferous brand of lowbrow high jinks one
his peers are determined not to allow him to ever compete for an acting
Oscar—the fact he was overlooked for 2004’s “Eternal Sunshine of
the Spotless Mind” remains unforgivable—he might as well grab the
cash opportunities when he can.
his third season playing an imperious TV anchor on HBO’s “The
Newsroom,” Daniels has less of a reason to engage in such moronic antics
again. But man does not live by scintillating Aaron Sorkin dialogue
alone. Sometimes you just want to yell: “Show us your tits.”
Farrellys also rightly ignore any references to the ill-conceived 2003
prequel, “Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd.” That featured the
only actors less famous than those guys who briefly filled in for Tom
Wopat and John Schneider while they were engaged in a contract dispute
on TV’s “The Dukes of Hazzard.”
there is a plot. Harry, who needs a new kidney in a hurry, suddenly
learns he has a grown daughter named Penny who might be a possible
donor. He and Lloyd, as before, hit the road in ridiculous vehicles
including a hearse and a Zamboni machine to find her in Maryland, where
she lives with her wealthy adoptive father.
And, oops, he is an esteemed Nobel-winning scientist. Yes, even the
Farrellys are on board with the trend. Except he is secretly being
poisoned by his gold-digging cheat of a second wife (“The Walking
Dead"'s Laurie Holden) and the family handyman (Rob Riggle, up to the
task of being a straight man). Everyone ends up in El Paso at a
convention that mocks Mensa’s answer to Comic-Con, those pretentious TED
this point, I have to mention a reference that will be of interest to
fans of RogerEbert.com. The blind kid in a wheelchair from the first
movie, Billy from 4C, is back and has a movie-dialogue-squawking parrot
named Siskel, apparently in honor of critic Gene Siskel. The Farrellys
were always thankful for Siskel and Ebert’s support of their films, and
even dedicated 2000’s “Me, Myself & Irene” to Siskel after he died
the year before.
line: For every joke that works, there are five that fall flat and one
that elicits waves of disgust. You might be able to handle that ratio,
however, just to hear absurd discussions like this one between Penny and
Lloyd. “I’ve always wanted to go to India and work in a leprechaun colony,” Penny says. Counters Lloyd, after digesting the statement: “I
think you mean Ireland.”