Dumb and Dumberer (United States, 2003)

A movie review by James Berardinelli

Just when I thought it was safe to go back in theaters on Friday the 13th – with Jason having decided to postpone his duel with Robert Englund's nightmare-prowling pizza face until later in the summer – along comes a seemingly innocent movie that has forced me to acknowledge that horror comes in many forms.

I could start this review by stating that Dumb and Dumberer lives up to its name, or by calling it stupid, moronic, and idiotic, but I believe that approach is a trap, since a movie like this might relish being the object of such bland invectives. Instead, let me try a few that can't possibly be misconstrued as twisted praise: unfunny, boring, torturous, and unwatchable. This is just about as bad as it gets (although, to be fair, no one tries to masturbate an animal). There isn't a single amusing moment to be found during the movie's interminable 83 minute running time. And here's a clear indication of just how lackluster things get: watching the illuminated second hand of my watch tick away the seconds offered more entertainment than what was playing on the screen. When the picture started, it was out of frame. People in the audience jeered at the projectionist to fix it. Little did they know that Dumb and Dumberer would play better that way.

Dumb and Dumberer (which, at some point during its production history, went by the name of Dumber and Dumbest) is a prequel to the 1994 feature Dumb and Dumber. Wisely, none of the principals involved with the earlier film wanted anything to do with this misbegotten stepchild. The Farrelly Brothers, who wrote and directed, passed, as did stars Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels. To fill the void, we have Troy Miller, a veteran director of numerous "Real World" TV episodes, and no-name actors Eric Christian Olsen and Derek Richardson. The most interesting thing (and I use the word "interesting" with great trepidation) about the movie comes from observing Olsen's studied imitation of Carrey (which is pretty much on-target). Richardson's attempts to mimic Daniels are less successful. He doesn't look, sound, or act like the man he's supposed to be impersonating.

If you concentrate hard enough while watching Dumb and Dumberer (and avoid a migraine or brain damage in the process), you can find something that resembles a plot. It's clear that the filmmakers didn't expect sentient life in the audience, because they didn't put any thought into the storyline. The screenplay, which appears to be in rough draft form, contains some monumentally glaring inconsistencies and discontinuities, but no one is supposed to notice those things, and, in the unlikely event that they do, they're not supposed to mention them. A little comedy can go a long way towards forgiving such laziness, but the movie doesn't have a clue about the basic concept of humor. Not only do most of the jokes fall flat (sometimes because the timing is off, but often because they're not funny), but there are countless missed opportunities. Dumb and Dumberer's biggest laughs are likely to come when a character runs around yelling "shit" seven or eight times, although most people outgrow snickering at bad words when they graduate from grammar school. And, when a movie can neuter a comedian of Eugene Levy's considerable skill, you know that the filmmakers are displaying a monumental level of ineptitude. Levy is so flat that, watching his "performance," I was embarrassed for him.

The movie takes place in 1986 and chronicles the storied meeting between Lloyd Christmas (Olsen) and Harry Dunne (Richardson), two high school outsiders. When the school's principal (Eugene Levy) decides to institute a "Special Needs" class so he can bilk a charity fund of some money, he finds his perfect first two students in Lloyd and Harry. Both boys are infatuated with a would-be teenage Lois Lane, Jessica Matthews (Rachel Nichols), and they come to her aid as she works to expose the principal and his nefarious assistant, Ms. Heller (Cheri Oteri).

I was not a fan of Dumb and Dumber, but, while sitting through the sequel, I would have been ecstatic to be exposed to something of equal quality. This is easily the worst movie to reach theaters since Freddy Got Fingered, and the most unbearable sequel of all time (beating out Halloween 6). Usually, Hollywood waits until August to empty its cinematic septic tank into multiplexes. This year, the flood has started early. And no movie could be more aptly compared to raw sewage than this film.

Dumb and Dumberer (United States, 2003)

Director: Troy Miller
Cast: Eric Christian Olsen, Derek Richardson, Eugene Levy, Rachel Nichols, Mimi Rogers, Luis Guzman, Cheri Oteri
Screenplay: Robert Brenner, Troy Miller
Cinematography: Anthony B. Richmond
U.S. Distributor: New Line Cinema
Run Time: 1:23
U.S. Release Date: 2003-06-13
MPAA Rating: "PG-13" (Sexual Situations, Profanity)
Subtitles: none
Theatrical Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1