DUMB AND DUMBER TO (2014)

Review by Derrick Carter

Running Time: 1 hour 49 minutes

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for Crude and Sexual Humor, partial Nudity, Language and some Drug References

DUMB AND DUMBER TO, US advance poster art, from left: Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels, 2014. ©Universal

Directed by: Bobby Farrelly & Peter Farrelly

Written by: Peter Farrelly, Bobby Farrelly, Sean Anders, John Morris, Bennett Yellin & Mike Cerrone

Starring: Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels, Laurie Holden, Kathleen Turner, Brady Bluhm, Steve Tom, Rachel Melvin & Rob Riggle

Two decades is a long time to wait for a sequel. Many might argue that it’s too long, especially since the original DUMB AND DUMBER walked a fine line between being stupid and clever. For those not in the know, that 1994 comedy followed the road trip of two innocent idiots caught up in the deadly antics of a kidnapping. The film launched the careers of the Farrelly brothers (whose best film is still THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY in my book) and catapulted Jim Carrey into being an A-list star. In DUMB AND DUMBER TO, the Farrellys and the two leads (Carrey and Jeff Daniels) return in an attempt to recapture lighting in a bottle. It doesn’t work out so well this time around.

DUMB AND DUMBER TO, from left: Jeff Daniels, Jim Carrey, 2014. ph: Hopper Stone/©Universal

Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne are back on another adventure after discovering that Harry has an illegitimate daughter. This unexpected news couldn’t come at a more convenient time, especially since Harry is suffering from kidney problems and needs a donor to give up a vital organ for him. Unwilling to part with his own body part and willing to drive him across country, Lloyd takes Harry out on the road to track down his now-grown kid. Unfortunately, the bumbling morons wind up in the sights of more criminals and wacky mayhem ensues.

DUMB AND DUMBER TO, from left: Rachel Melvin, Jim Carrey, 2014. ph: Hopper Stone/©Universal

The biggest problem with DUMB AND DUMBER TO is that with six(!) screenwriters, the film packs in less than half of the jokes and chuckle-worthy dialogue of the original film. It would be quite a task to perfectly nail that 90’s comedy nostalgic vibe that was exclusive to the time period, but the Farrellys are trying way too hard. They’re literally throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks. The same can be said of rehashed basic plot points (many scenes play off as a weaker semi-remade moments from the first film) and other jokes are just plain recycled (though they don’t work nearly as well on the second time). This can especially be shown in end credits that showcase clips from both films side-to-side in almost a meta way of saying “See, we did it again!”

DUMB AND DUMBER TO, from left: Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels, 2014. ph: Hopper Stone/©Universal

One big positive is that Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels slip right back into the roles of Lloyd and Harry with little to no effort. These actors disappear into the beloved characters, even if the writing isn’t quite up to snuff of giving them many interesting things to do in the overall story. However, it felt like Lloyd and Harry were too stupid during certain scenes. They were idiots in the first movie, but they weren’t as obnoxious and annoying as they are here. It’s almost like the 20 years have further drained IQ points out of their characters to an even more far-fetched level. The predecessor never got too over-the-top in a way that seemed Seth Macfarlane-like, but this second installment mainly focuses on making a more outlandish repeat of the first movie…resulting in a handful of solid laughs and a lot of awkward unfunny silence. Rob Riggle is the only welcomed addition to the cast of characters. He’s sort of wasted in a side part, but not nearly as much as Laurie Holden as the main baddie.

DUMB AND DUMBER TO, from left: Laurie Holden, Rob Riggle, 2014. ph: Hopper Stone/©Universal

To add insult to injury, DUMB AND DUMBER TO goes out on a huge anti-climax. The ending felt like it was shrug-inducing and not nearly as exciting or funny as it was intended to be. This being said, the last third is where some of the really nifty twists that I didn’t see coming pop up. I also laughed at some funny scenes in the second half, but the first hour was almost a struggle to get through. I shouldn’t have to look for things to laugh at in a comedy like this as the film’s primary goal should be giving me things to laugh at right away. That’s a problem.

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DUMB AND DUMBER TO was never going to be high art or the best comedy of the year, but it’s disappointing nonetheless. While I can praise Carrey and Daniels’s chemistry together after all these years and there are funny scenes, the movie suffers from a so-so script and overly familiar jokes (some downright recycled from the first movie). It’s not nearly as bad as the godawful prequel DUMB AND DUMBERER, but that’s not exactly praise you want to aiming for in a sequel to a beloved cult classic that’s two decades old. Some people may outright love this sequel, but I was let down. It’s a middle-of-the-road experience as a whole.

Grade: C

KINGPIN (1996)

Review by Derrick Carter

Running Time: 1 hour 53 minutes

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for Crude Sex-Related Humor and a Drug Scene

Kingpin poster

Directed by: Peter Farrelly, Bobby Farrelly

Written by: Barry Fanaro, Mort Nathan

Starring: Woody Harrelson, Randy Quaid, Vanessa Angel, Bill Murray, Chris Elliot, William Jordan, Lin Shaye

The Farrelly brothers are known for their earlier comedies. DUMB AND DUMBER is one of the funniest films of the 90’s and I would argue that THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY is on the same level of that Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels flick. Between both of those well-known celebrated films, the Farrellys directed a project that has become a underseen gem of theirs. They may not have written it, but they did direct it and the script is more than worthy of the brothers names being attached. KINGPIN is a crude, silly, and thoroughly enjoyable sports comedy that blends plenty of different types of jokes together. It’s not high art or one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen, but I had a really good time watching this film. I laughed a lot and by the conclusion (which did surprise me), I walked away grinning.

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Roy Munson has had the gift of bowling in his blood from childhood. Trained by his father, the young (albeit naïve) Roy wins the state championship against a snooty rival bowler, Ernie McCracken. After being scammed into a hustle gone wrong by Ernie, Roy loses his bowling hand and winds up wasting 17 years of his life as a washed-up, broke, has-been athlete. Out trying to make a cheap buck, Roy spots budding talent in the Amish closeted-bowler Ishmael Boorg. With an all-star bowling tournament on the horizon that boasts a prize of one million dollars, Roy takes the innocent Ishmael under his wing on a road trip to Reno to enter the competition. Along their way, the two encounter plenty of different colorful characters including: intimidating thugs, a beautiful girl named Claudia, and an unwelcome face from Roy’s past.

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KINGPIN is sort of in the same vein as Weird Al’s UHF. It uses the go-for-broke, throw everything at the wall and see what sticks method. Luckily, a majority of the jokes hit. There are a number of punch lines that miss the mark and one that downright didn’t belong in the film. Even in the not nearly as funny moments, things still work due to the interesting characters. Woody Harrelson takes the lead role as Roy and revels in the loser personality of this washed-up professional that begins to have a change of heart thanks to Ishmael. Speaking of which, Randy Quaid is hit-or-miss as Ishmael. He’s downright hilarious in some scenes as he sinks into some all sorts of sinning (all rationalized as being for the greater good), but also takes the dummy shtick too far during some moments (e.g. him constantly mistaking Roy’s last name throughout the entire movie).

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Vanessa Angel is a good as a genuinely caring friend to Ishmael and begrudging love interest for Roy. Chris Elliot and Lin Shaye also make brief, but disgustingly memorable appearances. The real standout besides Harrelson would be Bill Murray as the Roy’s old nemesis, Ernie McCracken. Donning one of the worst comb-overs in movie history, Murray is clearly having an absolute blast playing the villain for a change. He’s hatable on all levels and reserves a spot as one of the most despicable dickheads to ever grace film history.

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The biggest issue that detracts from some of the entertainment in KINGPIN doesn’t involve some lame jokes that don’t quite work. It’s actually the long running time. Some parts of the film could have definitely been glossed over or cut out altogether for a more tight running time. Credit where credit is due, the story really picks up the pace in the last 50 minutes. I really liked how the conclusion played itself out too. The last scenes involving every character were very fitting. The ending also surprised me on a few levels that I didn’t predict. I was completely satisfied by the final 10 minute wrap-up.

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KINGPIN is far from the Farrelly brothers best movie. That accomplishment lies between DUMB AND DUMBER and THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY. It doesn’t deserve the fate of being mostly forgotten that has befallen it though. This is a movie that I would highly recommend for a group of friends gathered with pizza and beer. It’s a highly entertaining sports comedy that does surprise on some levels and goes to outrageous lengths to get a laugh. Some of the jokes don’t work, but the majority of them do. The pacing can be a little slow in the first hour, but it never lost my interest and got significantly more enjoyable in the second half. In the end, I do recommend KINGPIN as a ridiculous comedy that revolves around the cut-throat world of bowling. Before DODGEBALL or TALLADEGA NIGHTS, there was KINGPIN and it’s very much worth remembering.

Grade: B

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