REVIEW: Dumb and Dumber To

13 11 2014

If ever there were a walking contradiction of a film, it would be “Dumb and Dumber To.”  I remain confounded as to how a film can be so clever yet so inane at the same time.  Some jokes in the film are actually quite ingenious, but usually just when it registers, Harry (Jeff Daniels) and Lloyd (Jim Carrey) make some crack that would not even entertain the least discerning thirteen-year-old.

So what to make of the Farrelly Brothers’ latest comedy, an uneven blend of upper-middle- and low-brow humor?  It caters to two wildly opposite sensibilities, providing no real meeting point for them.  I have a feeling its median will be both happy or unhappy, depending on how tolerant a particular viewer is when they approach “Dumb and Dumber To.”

I would have been a little happier had the film not been so long; clocking in at a tumid 110 minutes, Harry and Lloyd, who are essentially glorified sketch comedy characters, really overstay their welcome.  It’s certainly not as if the plot sweeps us up because it amounts to little more than a skeleton onto which the jokes can graft themselves.  The wild, “Tommy Boy”-esque goose chase that ensues from Harry’s need for a kidney replacement brings a few good natural jokes, though the real laughs arise from the off-handed remarks and abundant malapropisms.

There are also far more laughs coming from Jeff Daniels, who rarely gets the chance to be this funny.  Carrey plays shades of his wacky, off-kilter Lloyd all the time; Daniels, on the other hand, only breaks out Harry once in a blue moon.  He usually waxes witty in everything from “Looper” to “The Squid and the Whale,” yet it is really a fun treat to watch him cut loose – even if the material feels beneath him at times.

And as a final post-script, whoever put in two seconds of Riskay’s “Smell Yo Dick” as Lloyd’s ringtone should pat themselves on the back.  I doubt they intended it to generate a big rise, but I caught the reference and got a wickedly perverse amount of pleasure from it.  Obscure semi-viral videos from 2009 should still have a place in our culture five years later, and better it be in “Dumb and Dumber To” than on another obnoxious nostalgia-exploiting clickbait BuzzFeed list.  B-2stars





REVIEW: Hall Pass

4 07 2011

It’s a shame that “Hall Pass” doesn’t have a less contrived script or a bit more maturity.  If it had these things, it would be one heck of a comedy.  But alas, it doesn’t, and what we are stuck with is a few decent laughs held together by a string of ridiculous events.

It could be worse, though, as Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis play off each other pretty well.  Their sex-crazed babbling combined with a blooming barely-adolescent brain and the libido of a retirement home patient re-entering the game is absolutely outlandish.  Yet as childish as practically every line and situation was, I would find myself chuckling in spite of it, mostly along with Sudeikis.  Maybe it’s because he’s used to finding nuggets of gold inside of crap at “Saturday Night Live,” but whatever it is, the man is some kind of funny.   Wilson, on the other hand, feels past his prime with humor quality receding almost as precipitously as his hairline.

But these two hopeless husbands get a chance to live out their dreams in order to relieve their woebegone wives (played by Jenna Fischer and Christina Applegate).  In the words of Joy Behar, it’s a “hall pass.”  The movie never really cashes in on the high concept, just as Wilson and Sudeikis’ helpless sex drive leads them nowhere while their wives, in the words of Justin Timberlake, “get their sexy on.”

The stupid shenanigans distract from anything meaningful that “Hall Pass” might have to say about marriage.  I’m doubting there actually was anything in the way of commentary as the characters sure don’t seem to have any scruples about the messed-up events of the movie.  It’s definitely a far cry from The Farrelly Brothers’ “There’s Something About Mary.”  As for the conclusion of this review, I’m not really sure whether to steer you towards or away from the movie: it’s just another middling, forgettable comedy that I couldn’t feel more ambivalently about.  C /