Dumb and Dumber (United States, 1994)

A movie review by James Berardinelli

Sometimes, a movie just can't live up to its advertising campaign (or its name, for that matter). Dumb and Dumber is one such case. Take the newspaper ad, for example, filled with all those fake, witty quotes. That's rather clever (although not original). Unfortunately, the same kind of humorists weren't involved in writing the script. "Dumb" actually overestimates the film's intelligence.

At its best, Dumb and Dumber is like an Ernest movie with a scatological bent. Of course, there's as much a place in motion pictures for lowbrow humor as there is for philosophical morality tales, but that assumes the jokes actually work. While I won't claim to have gone through this entire film without laughing, there are some long periods between chuckles. It's frequently like that with flatulence humor -- you find it amusing the first time you're exposed to it (at the age of maybe five or six), but it quickly gets tiresome.

The thin plot thread upon which Dumb and Dumber hangs (not that anyone is seeing this picture for its storyline) has limo driver Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey) retrieving a briefcase left behind in an airport by a beautiful client (Lauren Holly). Along with his best friend and roommate Harry Dunne (Jeff Daniels), Lloyd starts the long drive west from Providence to Aspen to find his dream woman and return the locked briefcase, which just happens to be filled with money. The cross-country trek isn't easy, however. Not only are the intrepid duo lumbered with IQs barely into the double-digits (they make Forrest Gump look like a genius), but they're being pursued by a pair of crooks (Mike Starr and Karen Duffy) who want the money. Fortunately for Lloyd and Harry, the bad guys aren't exactly Valedictorian material, either.

While I found Jim Carrey tolerable (and, at times, even likable) in The Mask, here he's back to his Ace Ventura worst. If you appreciate Carrey, his first movie, or anything featuring Jim Varney's cinematic alter-ego, Dumb and Dumber is likely your sort of experience. Everyone else will either be offended, bored, or both. And has Jeff Daniels' career really come to this? With Gettysburg and Speed, things had been looking up.

For a movie that, with some reworking, could have come close to an extended Monty Python-type skit (and there is a bit about a dead parakeet), Dumb and Dumber ends up aiming a whole lot lower. This is more Benny Hill territory. Then again, that's probably being unkind to the late British gentleman, since he did that kind of humor long before this tiresome screenplay came along.

Dumb and Dumber (United States, 1994)

Run Time: 1:47
U.S. Release Date: 1994-12-16
MPAA Rating: "PG-13" (Profanity, Sexual Situations)
Subtitles: none
Theatrical Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1