The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape
Send this page to Twitter!  

THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


Dumb & Dumber To

People rarely talk about lowbrow humor as art, but there is a sort of artistry to it. A certain amount of skill is necessary to hit an audience's funny bone with potty humor and still make them care about the characters and story. Mel Brooks had a knack for this and, at their best, so do Peter and Bobby Farrelly. In 1994, the filmmaking brothers released Dumb & Dumber, an apologetically lowbrow comedy that nonetheless had a sizable heart beating within it. The movie hit just the right balance of silly and sweet. Now, twenty years and one awful prequel (Dumber & Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd) later, comes the official follow-up, Dumb & Dumber To. It lacks the lowbrow artistry of its predecessor, but I'm not going to lie and say I didn't laugh.

The plot, such as it is, involves Harry (Jeff Daniels) discovering that he has a daughter he never knew about. He and Lloyd (Jim Carrey) go off in search of her. Kathleen Turner plays the biological mother who placed the girl for adoption two decades ago, and Rachel Melvin plays the now-grown Penny. There's a lot of nonsense about Penny making her way to a science conference in El Paso, and the attempts of her scheming stepmother (Laurie Holden) to prevent her from making an important speech there. Those things are largely inconsequential, though. They're here merely because a movie has to have some sort of plot on which to hang all the jokes.

And the jokes are really at the center of Dumb & Dumber To. The Farrelly Brothers are largely content to trade on audience goodwill. They mostly recreate the anything-goes tone of the original, while simultaneously allowing Carrey and Daniels to go nuts, hoping that this will be enough to earn some laughs.

It is enough. Or at least it was enough for me. Some people are going to hate this movie with a passion. If anything, the humor is even more tasteless and juvenile than it was in the original. The bar for lowbrow humor, ironically, has been raised over the last twenty years thanks to movies ranging from the Farrellys' own There's Something About Mary to Borat to Neighbors. Dumb & Dumber To has jokes about teenage menstruation, sexual acts performed on senior citizens, and the perils of passing gas in a car. Jeff Daniels' butt crack is visible so frequently that it deserves its own screen credit. Harry and Lloyd repeatedly engage in hijinks that are, at maximum, at a fifth grade level. This is fundamentally what the movie is.

While it won't be everyone's cup of tea, there's a rowdy, anarchic spirit to the film that is certain to delight many fans of the original. Carrey and Daniels slip back into their roles with glee. The comic chemistry between them is just as sharp as it was back in 1994. Both men show fearlessness in going for the outrageous jokes, and that in itself is often funny. There's also something to be said for the structure of the jokes. A fair number of them admittedly fail to connect, but the ones that do are hilarious. Most of the best bits in Dumb & Dumber To possess an I can't believe they just did that! quality. Comedy sometimes involves seeing what you can get away with. It's not unlike being in high school and trying to joke around in the library without making too much noise. Dumb & Dumber To has at least a dozen such moments in which the laughter comes from the sheer audacity of the gag.

Dumb & Dumber To defies traditional film criticism. I can only tell you that I laughed, and at times I laughed really hard. It lacks the heart of the original, and perhaps too many times relies on callbacks to that movie. But when a cat eats a roomful of rare birds, then farts feathers, you either laugh or you don't. I nearly rolled out of my theater seat.

( out of four)

Dumb & Dumber To is rated PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, partial nudity, language and some drug references. The running time is 1 hour and 49 minutes.

Buy a copy of my book, "Straight-Up Blatant: Musings From The Aisle Seat," on sale now at! Paperback and Kindle editions also available at!

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.