One of the brighter qualities of the works of the Farrelly brothers is how, even in the midst of profane unholiness and toilet humor, a sincere pathos often emerges. In 1994’s smash hit Dumb and Dumber, Jim Carrey’s Lloyd has such a moment, when he tearfully expresses to Jeff Daniels’ Harry how he doesn’t want to be a nobody anymore. It’s an isolated bit of poignancy, notable not just for the touch of depth it provides, but also for how it foreshadowed the solid dramatic actor Carrey later became.
You will find no such scene in the Farrellys’ slapdash, 20-years-later sequel Dumb and Dumber To. There are maybe six hearty laughs in the picture, which averages to about one per screenwriter (not a joke). This time around, the goofballs attempt to seek out the adult daughter Harry never knew he had after he receives a decades-old postcard from her birth mother, played by Kathleen Turner, who looks deeply uncomfortable and is much ridiculed. (Seriously, didn’t riffing on Turner’s femasculinity seem old hat when the original D&D came out in 1994?) It turns out Harry needs a kidney, which leads him to his daughter’s adoptive parents, a scientist (Steve Tom), and his conniving wife (The Walking Dead‘s Laurie Holden), who’s already plotting with the household handyman (Rob Riggle) to take over the family fortune.
D&D To visually checks off all of the first film’s hallmarks: the dog-groomer van, the upside-down breath spray moment, Petey the parakeet’s blind owner, the ”most annoying sound in the world.” The occasional clever sight gag proves the Farrellys are down but not quite out (a good one has Harry and Lloyd riding a bike together…that’s already mounted on a bus’ bike rack). But the material feels more desperate than funny (”yankos los pee-pee,” for example, is said to Mexican orderlies regarding a catheter mishap). Carrey and Daniels are forced to wring this middling material so hard they must have calluses. The ultimate sad realization is not that Dumb & Dumber To doesn’t match the original’s good-time quotient, but that it might not even be as good as—yikes—Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd. C-