I like it a lot
Dumb and Dumber is a comedy where many of the broadest, best-known gags have lost their luster, but the the stuff on the fringes absolutely slays me. Jeff Daniels drinking a bunch of laxatives and crapping in a broken toilet? Meh. Jim Carrey awkwardly asking some dudes outside a Seven Eleven if they’re drinking Big Gulps, then saying he’ll see them later? Genius.
Dumb and Dumber follows two bumbling best friends, Lloyd Christmas (Carrey) and Harry Dunne (Jeff Daniels), during a road trip across the US to deliver a lost piece of luggage to a woman that Lloyd is smitten with. What they don’t realize is that they’ve inadvertently interfered in a kidnapping ransom plot, and the suitcase is full of cash.
Whether a comedy is rewatchable is a pretty subjective matter, but it relies on an inviting tone and a density of memorable moments. On this front, it’s hard to top Dumb and Dumber, which is nonstop congenial loopiness and dumb gags.
Nostalgia helps make a comedy continue to work, too. For me, Dumb and Dumber is peak nostalgia: I discovered it my freshman year of college, as it was one of my new friends’ favorite movie of all time. He pointed out every goofy nuance of the film, and we laughed our asses off. Dumb and Dumber became synonymous with the joys of discovering and sharing movies with friends, even the stupid ones.
Both Carrey and Daniels are pretty excellent here, bringing a blend of big goofy bits and dry line deliveries. Daniels has more experience as a dramatic actor, but pretty great comic timing and delivery. The pair’s chemistry, in particular — the way riffs seem to naturally build between them — is spectacular.
As with all of the Farrelly brothers’ comedies I’ve seen, it’s about 25 minutes too long, and the gross-out humor seems way too try-hard to land with anything other than an eye-roll, especially once it loses all shock value if you’ve seen the movie before. But I find the Farrellies to have pretty good comic instincts most of the time. They also display an intense determination to never go more than about 15 seconds with landing a joke. I can see why this aggressive cadence to comedy would be exhausting, but it at least means the movie never drags with dead spots.
Despite its flaws, Dumb and Dumber remains a movie I adore. In other words, I like it a lot.
- Review Project: 2009 Top 100