reviewed by Ken Hanke
Having seen the original Dumb and Dumber, I harbored the same kind of enthusiasm for the further cinematic adventures of Harry and Lloyd that I would have evidenced had someone announced a Dean Martin-Jerry Lewis reunion. The problem is we don’t even get the Dean and Jerry of the original; we get the bargain-basement Duke Mitchell and Sammy Petrillo versions (the pair of Martin and Lewis knockoffs showcased by exploitation producer Jack Broder in a forgettable 1952 film boasting the unforgettable title Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla).
Since Mitchell went to the big bye-bye some years ago and Petrillo is presumably in hiding, the makers of Dumb and Dumberer had to content themselves with Eric Christian Olsen (Rob Schneider’s love interest in The Hot Chick) and newcomer Derek Richardson. And if Richardson is very lucky, no one will remember him any better than they remember Jeff Daniels in the original Dumb and Dumber. (As it stands, you usually hear people remark that Olsen looks “just like Jim Carrey,” while Richardson looks “just like the other guy.”) Whatever the case, Olsen and Richardson are exactly the stars this movie and director Troy Miller deserve.
Miller comes to us with an impressive backlog of work, including the 1993 season of MTV’s The Real World, and, of course, the classic Sports Illustrated 1994 Swimsuit Issue Video. And he brings to Dumb and Dumberer everything he learned while so honing his directorial skills. In fact, the last time I saw anything quite this amateurishly done on the Big Screen was when Louis C.K. gave us — yes — Pootie Tang (Miller’s film is probably marginally funnier than the terrible Tang, but it’s just as cheap looking, slipshod and jaw-droppingly awful).
Dumb and Dumberer has that road-accident feel. I would strongly suggest not making eye-contact with the film — but try as you may, you can’t look away. There’s a certain mesmerizing quality to the pageant of ghastliness laid out before you — not to mention a moment of pleasant shock when the gets an esoteric term for an obscure sexual practice past the censors by using it as the character name of the buxom twins at movie’s end. (Yeah, I know South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut got the same word on Elton John’s piano, but that was in an R-rated film.) This, however, is hardly sufficient reason to watch this thing.
For the record, there’s something that passes for a plot involving a villainous school principal (played by Eugene Levy as if he was back on Second City Television) palming Harry and Lloyd off as special-education students in order to somehow bilk funding for the program. None of this makes the least bit of sense (why would this duo need to be palmed off?), but, hey, we’re talking about a movie in which one main character brings the other a stuffed polar bear stolen from a museum (a sequence set to Hall and Oates’ “You Make My Dreams Come True”) to patch things up after a falling out. So sense is not a high priority here.
What Dumb and Dumberer mostly does is enlarge upon the current trend in flatulence and scatological humor to a degree that no one else has dared attempt. If you want to see a Jeff “The Other Guy” Daniels clone smear an entire bathroom with what may or may not be a Hershey bar (talk about sketchy product placement!), this is your film.
Ah, but is this a good thing? In general, I’d say no — though ask me again next week, when I might feel an injection of this sort of toilet couture is just what’s needed in the long-dreaded release, From Justin to Kelly.