Overview: In this Farrelly brothers comedy, Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels play two incredibly dimwitted, but lovable best friends on a cross-country adventure. 1994; Rated PG-13; 107 minutes.
Just So We’re Clear: Let’s get one thing clear from the start. Dumb and Dumber is as the name suggests: dumb. Right down to an opening credit sequence filled with intentional misspellings and grammatical errors, Dumb and Dumber boasts its ridiculousness. As silly as “Dumb and Dumber” is, it’s also packed with — dare I say — moments of complete genius.
Harry and Lloyd: Character introductions are wonderfully done. We meet Jim Carrey’s Lloyd as he peeks out the window of a limousine, grinning his chip-toothed grin, and trying to impress a beautiful woman. When she tells Lloyd that she’s from Austria, he replies, “Austria! Well, then. G’day mate! Let’s put another shrimp on the barbie!” Instantly viewers know that this guy is a goofball — a very ignorant goofball.
An entertaining, committed Jeff Daniels plays Harry, Lloyd’s best friend and the dumb to his dumber. Daniels proves that he no problem pulling off comedy. He hangs comfortably with Carrey and has some fantastic lines of his own. Here’s one of my favorites: “I called her up. She gave me a bunch of crap about me not listening to her, or something. I don’t know; I wasn’t really paying attention.”
Beneath the gross-out gags and the slapstick silliness, the beating heart of the film lies with Harry and Lloyd’s friendship, and Carrey and Daniels play it believably.
Polarizing Jokes: When the jokes fall flat, they fall really flat. This script is too zany for anything to slip by smoothly. When something doesn’t work it stands out like a sore thumb. Even when the jokes work they’re likely to polarize viewers. For some, watching Jeff Daniels crack pained faces on the toilet after he unknowingly takes laxatives will be riot-worthy. For others, it’ll be repulsive.
So Stupid It’s Smart: Throughout the film, Harry and Lloyd best the villains without even trying. For the most part, they never even know that there are people out to get them. Harry and Lloyd are so outrageously incompetent that the bad guys assume they must be geniuses. This phenomenon represents Dumb and Dumber as a whole. The film is ridiculous. The jokes involve little thought and there isn’t much plot. But because everything is so unapologetically simpleminded, viewers are left feeling a little like the bad guys felt about Harry and Lloyd. This is unbelievably ludicrous. It must be brilliant.
Final Thoughts: Maybe it’s the result of my own childhood nostalgia, maybe it’s the clever script, or maybe it’s just the intense level of commitment shown by everyone involved, but Dumb and Dumber remains one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen. It’s a witless, simpleminded comedy, but it never pretends to be anything else, and there’s something beautiful and, yes, genius about that.