Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd

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Movie review by Greg Carlson

A dreadful, pitiful, and totally pointless exercise in humiliation, the cloddish follow-up to the Farrelly Brothers 1994 smash hit “Dumb and Dumber” – made back when Jim Carrey was focused on being funny instead of gunning for “serious” acting awards – falls flat from start to finish. With virtually zero decent laughs, “Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd” is an unworthy successor to the original on every level. Granted, not everyone raved about the first “Dumb and Dumber” – more than a few critical doomsayers lamented the end of civilization as we knew it, moaning as they enumerated the high quotient of gags revolving around snot and diarrhea.

Those same critics might wish to take back some of their barbs upon seeing the hell-spawned “prequel” that now languishes on screens nationwide. Despite the movie’s Rhode Island setting, virtually required in Farrelly Brothers movies, “Dumb and Dumberer” has no connection to any of the principal creative staff who worked on the film’s forerunner. Appearing to have sold out to the lowest bidder, Peter and Bobby certainly cannot be pleased with what has become of their creations. Writer Robert Brenner and director and co-writer Troy Miller have failed to understand the most basic property of life in the Farrelly’s world: maintaining genuine warmth toward the characters, no matter the severity of their afflictions.

Worse yet, the new script pathetically tries to ape many of the first movie’s plot devices. You’ll feel déjà vu when a lousy fantasy sequence takes us inside the dimly-lit mind of Lloyd (Eric Christian Olsen, nearly going into overdrive trying to live up to Carrey’s take on the role), or when Harry (Derek Richardson, bombing in the Jeff Daniels part) has a major bathroom mishap. Or when the pair’s friendship is nearly destroyed when a girl comes between them. And on and on.

If nothing else, the Farrelly Brothers proved that being able to effectively make light of extremely stupid people is no mean feat. Director Miller never once strikes a winning note, saddled as he is with a stupendously lame sub-plot that explores the treacherous plan of high school principal Eugene Levy using Harry and Lloyd to garner funding for a “special needs” program. Levy, who is often the highlight in comedies without the comedy, is paired with Cheri Oteri as his lunch lady/mistress, and nary a chuckle is generated between the two.

Weirdly, only Bob Saget, as the father of Harry and Lloyd’s object of affection, seems to understand that he is standing on cinematic quicksand, and he spits out his lines with just the right amount of venom to let the audience know that he is painfully aware that he is doing time in one of the most god-awful movies to come along in decades. The other cast members are negligible, utterly failing to resonate more than two minutes after the merciful conclusion. Luis Guzman, as Lloyd’s dad and Mimi Rogers, as Harry’s mom are given absolutely nothing to do, and it’s a shame considering that they might have been able to salvage something out of this mess if they had been given half a chance.

This review was originally published in the High Plains Reader the week of 6/16/03.

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