Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Maybe I'm Too Old, But "Dumb and Dumber To" Just Wasn't for Me.

Dumb and Dumber To
The look on Billy in 4C's face sums up my experience with this movie.
We Should Stop Reviewing Comedies.”  That is the title of an article I wrote for my website over a year and a half ago, and I’ve stuck to it (aside from This Is the End, but I made an exception for that since it was an apocalyptic comedy).  After watching Dumb and Dumber To I felt compelled to break my own rule again.  The exception this time: a comedy sequel to a beloved movie from my youth. 

My argument for not reviewing comedies was basically that comedy is too subjective, and a critic’s sense of humor shouldn’t be held any higher than anyone else’s.  I still stand by that.  That said, I barely cracked a smile while watching this film, but others (and I’ve confirmed this based on a handful of positive reviews and plenty of comments on IMDb in support of the movie) will like it…maybe even love it.  I certainly d

on’t, but I’m not going to spend an entire review hating on a comedy that just didn’t strike my funny bone.  I am, however, going to spend an entire review wondering why this sequel felt so different that the first film…and I’ll probably hate on it a little too.

I love Dumb and Dumber.  Notice I used the present tense, “love,” not “loved”?  It is not a movie I aged out of enjoying.  In fact, I watched it a day after watching the sequel and still laughed aloud a few times.  It doesn’t make sense because this sequel features all of the original filmmakers.  It is written and directed by the Farrelly brothers and stars Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels.  It’s also similar in plot: two idiots go on a road trip and unwittingly get involved in a criminal plot.  This is no prequel a la Dumb and Dumberer (which the original filmmakers had nothing to do with).  It should be something I love.  Why isn’t it?

The obvious answer is time.  I’m older, which (supposedly) means that “dumb” comedies no longer appeal to me.  I think that would be correct if this was not a sequel to a movie I liked.  If this was an original movie that made this amount of money ($60 million as I’m typing this) and had defenders online, then I would simply think, “I must be too old for this.”  I am not too old for this type of comedy, though.  When I watch the stupid comedies from my youth, I still find them funny.  Chalk that up to nostalgia if you like, but I honestly still enjoy the majority of the comedies I liked fifteen years ago. 

Time, I think, actually is the answer, though.  The problem is that, while my comedic sensibilities have not changed, the filmmakers’ have.  Some have criticized the film because the stars, now in their fifties, come across as dirty old men rather than harmless buffoons.  I can see this argument, but I think it’s more than that.  Here’s an example.  In the new film, Harry (Jeff Daniels) and Lloyd (Jim Carrey) yell out to a female scientist, “Show us your tits!”  This was seen as a misogynistic line by many (rightfully so), but it is in keeping with their behavior.  In the first film, Harry comments on a woman passing by: “Check out the funbags on that hosehound!”  Definitely misogynistic as well, but at least it’s more original that what a cliché construction worker would yell at a passerby.  Plus, the line was given after they were talking about being classy to show that they are, in fact, not classy at all.  The point is that the Farrelly brothers have gotten lazier.  Their characters have always been misogynistic, but they used to get a pass because the writing was a bit wittier and more innocent. 

That is how I felt across the board with this film.  The jokes and the people are the same, but the effort is gone.  I loved Dumb and Dumber for the quirkier moments.  The physical gags don’t crack me up any longer (Harry’s tongue stuck a ski lift just doesn’t do it for me these days), but the smaller moments of each actor’s performance still make me laugh (Lloyd laughingly saying, “Yeah ha ha!” when asked if he sold a dead bird to a blind kid.  Now all the nuance is gone.  Sure, they were always cartoonish, but they were tethered to reality at least a little bit.  They’ve gone full blown cartoon now.  Give me the literal toilet humor of the first film any day over Harry and Lloyd glowing from radiation poison after bathing near a nuclear power plant.  These guys were not immortal the first time around. 

I could go on and on like this with examples of gags that worked the first time that were duplicated to lesser effect this time around.  But that would be too exhausting, and I think you get why I don’t like it by now.  I’ll finish by repeating that the film might, and does, work for others, but I can’t appreciate it as something separate from the beloved first film.  I guess I just haven’t aged enough comedically…and I hope I never do.

Dumb and Dumber To receives a:

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