Wednesday 7 September 2011

Movie Review: Dumb And Dumber (1994)

A celebration of idiocy, Dumb And Dumber actively seeks and happily steers onto every low road. Some moments are funny, but many are just too stupid to be enjoyable.

Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey) is a confirmed idiot, and his roommate and buddy Harry (Jeff Daniels) is equally dense. Working briefly as a limousine driver in Providence, Rhode Island, Lloyd gets to deliver Mary (Lauren Holly) to the airport. Mary is rich and beautiful, and Lloyd is immediately smitten. At the airport, Lloyd notices that Mary has abandoned a briefcase; he retrieves it but not in time to return it to Mary, who has boarded her flight to Aspen.

Unbeknownst to Lloyd, Mary was actually making a drop: the briefcase was a ransom payment intended for criminals Joe (Mike Starr) and J.P. (Karen Duffy), who have kidnapped her husband. Lloyd convinces Harry to embark with him on a long road trip from Providence to Aspen, and they are soon hotly pursued by Joe and J.P. on a journey that rapidly degenerates from misinformed to chaotic. Once they make it to Aspen, Lloyd and Harry need to find Mary and return the briefcase, but with two idiots in control of a lot of money and kidnappers in control of a high society member, all hell can be expected to break loose in the Aspen snow.

Jim Carrey is suitably farcical and by far the best thing about Dumb And Dumber, elevating an otherwise potentially irksome film into reasonable entertainment. But Lloyd Christmas is among Carrey's most forgettable characters. Yes, he gets himself into continuous trouble that is occasionally funny, but stupid is also predictable, and predictability kills comedy. Once it is established that Lloyd will make the stupidest decision available at every turn, he is rarely capable of springing genuinely amusing surprises.

Jeff Daniels plays Harry as just slightly more world-weary and a lot shaggier than Lloyd, but he also is entertaining just in patches, his dumbness eventually blanketing any sparks of originality. Harry's excessive dogmobile ride is a good indication of the film's ability to deal in subtleties.

Mary spends plenty of time humoring Lloyd and Harry because the script demands it, but Lauren Holly does little to answer the question as to why Mary would tolerate the dimwits for any longer than it would take to slam the door in their face. Holly at least got something out of the film: she became Mrs. Jim Carrey in 1996, a union that lasted for all of two years.

Brothers Peter and Bobby Farrelly keep the cameras pointing at Carrey's face to maximize use of their main asset, but the shallowness of the character eventually makes even his mug tiresome. Dumb And Dumber recalls the days of lowest common denominator, Laurel and Hardy style slapstick comedy. Yes, morons are funny, but some sharp wit would have been appreciated, if for no other reason than to demonstrate acknowledgement of screen comedy evolution.

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