In his stand-up act, comedian Jim Gaffigan asks, "Have you ever seen a movie like six years after it came out and you can't find anyone to discuss it with you?" That was my experience with Dumb & Dumber. I had no urge to see the film when it played in theaters, and as it continued to grow in popularity, I was convinced that I wouldn't like it. (What can I say, I used to be a snob.) Well, when I finally saw it, I liked it as well. So, despite all of the negative press concerning the tardy prequel, I approached Dumb & Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd (known as Dumb & Dumberer hereafter) with an open mind.
In Dumb & Dumber, we were introduced to the now familiar characters Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne, played by Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels, respectively. In the prequel, Dumb & Dumberer, which is set in 1986, we learn the origins of these two characters and how they became friends. Harry (here played by Derek Richardson) has been home-schooled all of his life by his mother (Mimi Rogers) and spends most of his days playing with his imaginary pirate friend. Now that Harry is 17, his mother decides that it's time for him to attend public school. There, he meets Lloyd (here played by Eric Christian Olsen), who lives in the school with his father (Luis Guzman), who is the school custodian. Lloyd thinks that he has a handle on what is cool in school, despite the fact that he gets his clothes from the lost & found and is constantly harassed by bullies. As they are both morons, Harry and Lloyd become fast friends.
Meanwhile, the crooked school principal, Mr. Collins (Eugene Levy), is in cahoots with Lunchlady Heller (Cheri Oteri) to create a fake special needs class so that the school can collect a $100,000 grant. Heller has Harry and Lloyd recruit students for this class, including the school mascot (Shia LaBeouf), a narcoleptic football player (William Lee Scott), and an exchange student (Michelle Krusiec). Unaware that they are being scammed...and of anything else for that matter, Harry and Lloyd feel very proud of their class. School newspaper journalist Jessica (Rachel Nichols) suspects that Principal Collins is up to something, but she needs proof, so she turns to Harry and Lloyd. But, will two guys who find a game of tag to be the ultimate thrill be able to help her take down the principal?
Dumb & Dumberer is an incredibly shallow film, but it must be judged on two levels -- it has to be examined as a stand-alone film, and as a sequel to an incredibly successful comedy. As with most sequels, Dumb & Dumberer pales in comparison to the original, and that's mostly because we already know these characters. We get to see them do some of the same things which they did in the original, and they don't play the second time. The idea of seeing Harry and Lloyd meet for the first time and witnessing how their friendship blossomed is interesting, but it seems pointless for them to be the exact same characters that they were in Dumb & Dumber. They should either be somewhat dumber or smarter here, so as to differentiate this from the other movie. As for the actors who play Harry and Lloyd, they are actually pretty good, especially Eric Christian Olsen, who could easily be related to Jim Carrey. Obviously, these guys aren't as good as Carrey and Daniels, but they are believable in these roles and do an admirable job.
Now, let's pretend that Dumb & Dumberer wasn't a sequel/prequel and that it simply existed on its own. In that sense, the movie isn't that bad. The jokes are incredibly stupid, but what would one expect from a movie called, Dumb & Dumberer? The script actually has some clever moments and several seemingly insignificant plot points emerge later in the film, or play a much larger role than expected. There are some legitimately funny moments in the film, and I found myself laughing out loud at times. What else could one want from a comedy? But, don't be fooled, this movie is no classic. The first 2/3 of the film is passable, but the final act is incredibly flat, and thus spoils the film. It's hard to remember any laughs from the first act when one is suffering through the finale. Also, some jokes are driven into the ground, or, as mentioned above, are too similar to items in Dumb & Dumber. Dumb & Dumberer isn't the train wreck which many made it out to be, but it isn't a very good movie either. The prequel showed up a few years too late and the jokes appear to have been sitting around for a few years.
Dumb & Dumberer wanders onto DVD courtesy of New Line Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. New Line has a reputation for delivering solid DVD releases, and this disc more or less conforms to that rule. The image is sharp and, for the most part, clear. However, some shots look somewhat soft and there is visible grain in many of the daytime scenes. The colors look very good and the flesh tones are natural. Haloes are evident in some shots, indicating some edge-enhancement, and there is some minor artifacting, most likely due to compression issues.
The DVD's Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track is impressive. It delivers clear dialogue, with no hint of hissing. The track has real presence and despite the fact that this is a comedy, there is a creative use of surround sound, with the music and sound effects. The surround sound isn't constant, but when it emerges, it adds atmosphere to the music. The soundtrack music sounds good and is often accompanied by an appreciable amount of bsas.
The Platinum Edition DVD release of Dumb & Dumberer contains several extra features, some of which are, well, pretty dumb. We'll start with the "real" extra. The special features are kicked off with an audio commentary from director Troy Miller and stars Eric Christian Olsen and Derek Richardson. This track is OK, but it's not incredibly informative. The three speakers are relaxed and interact well together, but there are too many "That was cool"-type comments and not enough facts about the making of the film. "Casting the Perfect Dummies" is a 25-minute featurette which provides an overview of the casting process for Dumb & Dumberer. Many males tried out for the two lead roles, and if they didn't fit those characters, new characters were created for some -- which makes one wonder if there was a completed script at casting time. The featurette offers audition tapes for most of the young cast, and allows the filmmakers to elaborate on their casting choices. Of course, the most incredible part of this segment is how Olsen, who's a dead-ringer for Jim Carrey in the film, actually looks like Cary Elwes in real life. We get a behind-the-scenes look at the film's production with "Dumb and Dangerous: The Making of Dumb & Dumberer" (17-minutes), which is hosted by Richardson and Olsen. However, this is an odd "making of" as it focuses solely on the filming of certain scenes and doesn't give an overview of the entire film -- but it does have a lot of on-set footage.
The DVD contains 9 deleted or altered scenes, which can be viewed with or without audio commentary from director Miller and editor Larry Jordan. Some of these scenes are actually funny and there is a "Play All" feature. There is an 8-minute reel which contains bloopers from the film and comments from the actors, including some odd moments with Shia LaBeouf and his mom. Finally, we have the theatrical trailer and teaser, both of which are letterboxed at 1.85:1 and have DD 5.1 sound.
Now, for the dumb extras. Actually, the first one is sort of clever, as the Dumb & Dumberer DVD features a clearly visible Easter Egg on each page and there is even an Easter Egg menu. (I won't spoil the surprises.) There are two fake audio commentaries, both of which cover only the first three minutes of the movie. The first is from film critics Samuel Shavers and Thompson Jennings, who must be phonies, as they heap praise and kudos onto the film. The second comes from The Ciccone family, who are just sitting down to a big meal as the film begins. They attempt to watch the movie, eat, and stay on topic. The opening of the film gets three more odd treatments. In "Extended Movie Mode", the film has been slowed to a crawl. With "Pillow Mode", the film is shown sideways, as if the viewer were lying on their side. And, in "Scottish", the actors speak with Scottish accents. Finally, "Jiffy Mode" condenses the entire film down to 1 minute and 17 seconds. These extras are clever (especially "Pillow Mode"), but let's face it, other than showing them to others, would you ever watch them more than once?
Dumb & Dumberer showed up a few years too late and the jokes appear to have been sitting around doing nothing for all those years. The movie contains a few laughs, but it can't decide if it wants to be a carbon-copy of the original, or do its own thing, and thus does nothing.