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Dumb and Dumberer (June 10/03)

It's kind of ridiculous to walk into a movie called Dumb and Dumberer with high expectations, but given that the original (released in 1994) has already become a comedy classic of sorts, it's also kind of hard not to. Dumb and Dumber marked Jim Carrey's third comedy in '94 (following Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and The Mask), and though it wasn't quite as effective as those two, his endearing chemistry with co-star Jeff Daniels certainly made it worth a look. But with Dumb and Dumberer, a prequel set during Harry and Lloyd's high school years, the filmmakers have eschewed the goofy innocence of the first film in favor of a more raunchy (and contemporary) gross-out comedy.

Set in 1986, the movie quickly introduces us to Lloyd (Eric Christian Olsen, standing in for Carrey) - a dim-witted kid who lives in the local high school with his father, a hard-working janitor named Ray (Luis Guzman). On the first day of classes, Lloyd literally runs into Harry (Derek Richardson), a home-schooled idiot who's thrilled to finally be attending a real school. The two are quickly assigned to the special needs classroom, where they're told to recruit more handicapped students. As it turns out, the only reason the class has been established is so Principal Collins (played by Eugene Levy) can embezzle the $100,000 grant money. With the help of an intrepid reporter for the school paper (Rachel Nichols), Harry and Lloyd set out to foil Collins' plans.

It's fairly obvious right away that Dumb and Dumberer was made quickly and on the cheap, as one of the first things we see is Lloyd dancing to Vanilla Ice's Ice Ice Baby - a song that didn't exist in '86. Putting aside small nitpicks, though, the primary problem here is the film's complete lack of good-natured humor. The original, being a Farrelly brothers production, was rife with infantile jokes and stock stereotypes - but there was also a certain amount of sweetness mixed in with everything else. What it really came down to was the relationship between Harry and Lloyd, which was more brotherly than anything else; it was always apparent that these guys genuinely cared for each other.

That's not the case here. The two actors playing Harry and Lloyd have absolutely no chemistry together, which (to be fair) probably would have been the case no matter who had been cast. Following in the footsteps of Carrey and Daniels is no easy task, but Olsen and Richardson never take their performances beyond the level of mimicry. Olsen does a decent job at imitating Carrey's mannerisms, and though Richardson barely looks or acts like Daniels, he makes for an acceptable idiot. The supporting cast, which even includes Bob Saget in a cameo role, doesn't make much of an impact - though Levy pulls off his usual scene-stealing thing once again.

The silly plot involving Levy's evil principal and lack of funny jokes turns Dumb and Dumberer into an ordeal along the lines of other lame comedies like Boat Trip and Tomcats. Do yourself a favor and just re-watch the original instead.

out of

© David Nusair