Dumb and Dumber (1994) — So stupid it’s stupidly funny

“We got no food, no jobs… our PETS’ HEADS ARE FALLING OFF!”

Justin’s rating: It’s the reason I became a vet

Justin’s review: When people are able to point at you to identify your films as the origin of countless copycats, then you’ve got genuine boasting rights, no matter how small the genre spin-off you‘ve created. Call it the “Die Hard Syndrome,” where every subsequent like-minded movie is invariably compared back to the granddaddy of them all.

The Farrelly brothers (Peter and Bobby) have been called many things, usually in all-capital letters ranging from gushing praise to damning shame, but no one can take away the fact that since There’s Something About Mary, pretty much every gross-out-slash-stupid-comedy of the past decade has tried to copycat their success. And usually to much failure, The Sweetest Thing et. all. The problem with the imitators is that they’ve only latched on to the “gross” part of the Farrelly brothers’ formula, and neglected what offsets the gross to make it work. Since their beginning with Dumb and Dumber, you can identify the Farrelly brother’s trademarks as:

  • The “I can’t believe they did that / said that” outrageous and puerile scene,
  • The “So stupid, it sneaks past your defenses and makes you laugh” bits, and
  • The sweet, charming center of likable characters.

Most of their imitators don’t notice or care about that last part, and then act befuddled when they’ve driven away their audience with the latest bodily fluid gag gone wrong joke. See, the Farrelly brothers know that once the audience genuinely cares for the main characters and believe the characters have a good, sincere hearts, the audience will forgive about anything gross or dumb they do and be in a better position to laugh about it. Yet while even the Farrelly brothers haven’t perfected this formula (Kingpin and Me, Myself and Irene were unbalanced and became more offensive than likable), the films in which they’ve gotten it to work end up being some of the best envelope-pushing comedies in my personal collection.

A lot of people hate Dumb and Dumber. And when I say “hate”, I mean to the point where if they merely suspect that you’ve seen and liked this movie, they’re quite willing to cast all morality to the wind and put you on a barbeque spit after a hearty tar-and-feathering. That’s okay. I have plenty of ribs to go around for the whole class. Would you like BBQ sauce with that?

The tale of Lloyd (Jim Carrey) and Harry (Jeff Daniels) is one you’ll be passing on to your children, and they to their offspring, and so on, and so forth, to the end of all time. As the two most stupid, thick-headed lunks in Rhode Island, these pals get caught up in returning an abandoned briefcase to a snow bunny (Lauren Holly) in Colorado. Of course, that means a ROAD TRIP, and what would a road trip be without a dog-themed van, emergency whizzing in a beer bottle, and accidentally killing hit men trying to kill them? It would be my last summer vacation, alas — bland and uneventful.

The question this film brings to your table is, how dumb can these two get? You’d be surprised. It gets so bad and out there that one might be tempted to claim that there is not a single human alive with such reduced mental capacity who hasn’t drowned in an inch of water yet. Then again, if you’re honest, you probably know worse. Anyway, it’s best to watch with a smile and constant rolling eyes how Lloyd and Harry get in and out of various situations.

As it was the Farrelly brothers’ starter film, Dumb and Dumber doesn’t nearly have the heart or balance that There’s Something About Mary achieved — it’s almost too annoying at times, and the best jokes are at the beginning and end, leaving the middle a crème-less center. Yet the funniest scenes, such as Lloyd accidentally shooting a snow owl in the head with a cork or Harry taking a light-hearted snowball fight with a girl a tad too intensely, had me howling in laughter when I first saw them, and even now I was surprised when I found myself giggling (manly, MANLY giggles, perhaps along the lines of “chuckling” or “guffawing”) to scenes I thought I had long since overwatched.

Hey, it’s dumb. At least you can’t accuse it of false advertising.

Didja notice?

  • When they refuel the Dog Van, they have to lift up the hind leg to access the gas tank
  • The opening credits are horribly misspelled
  • The waitress at the restaurant is reading “Of Course You’re Angry: A Family Guide To Dealing With The Emotions of Chemical Dependence”
  • How to do Number One in the car
  • Everyone thinks lighting farts is hilarious
  • Lloyd is a pervert in his fantasies
  • What a kiss!
  • The hotel that Lloyd and Harry stay at when they get the money is the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado.
  • Jim Carrey takes out his cap for his chipped tooth for the movie.

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