The ever-forward march of time can be the worst enemy to comedy, jokes can fall out of favour, age may reduce a performers dexterity and ability, and audiences can simply move on. Though sometimes there is a clamour for a reunion, and sometimes the spark can remain even after all those years. In 2014, Harry and Lloyd, once again, go on a zany road trip, to rekindle the humour from all those years ago, In Dumb and Dumber To.
After spending 20 years getting over the unrequited love of Mary Swanson, we soon discover that the time was spent tricking his long-time buddy, Harry Dunne, into thinking Lloyd was in a long-time coma. Harry, meanwhile, needs a kidney, and his best bet is a blood relative, which is hard considering he is adopted (and his birth parents deceased). All is not lost, however, as an uncovered letter reveals he is a biological father, on a quest to track down this long-lost child. The two take a trip to Maryland, where the child, Fanny (now called Penny, lives with wealthy professor _. The journey will get Harry and Lloyd unwittingly involved with a hitman and a scheme for a billion dollars, can they survive this road trip with their friendship intact? Or even their lives?
While a lot has changed in the 20 long years since the hit comedy made its mark, the characters haven’t much. From the way they dress to their extremely youthful behaviour like they have been persevered in amber for 20 years, the time institutionalised might offer an on-screen explanation. The film manages to bring back some of the returning classics, with yet another straight man for Harry and Lloyd to annoy. The iconic Mutt Cutts van makes an appearance, prominently displayed on the poster and in the film. Not every joke is a repeat though, some newer gags emerge too, like Bush Game, where you shove your ‘victim’ into a bush while exclaiming “Bush Game”, just one of the antics you’d expect from the original yet presented freshly here.
The inclusion of Penny makes for an interesting wrinkle in the duo’s dynamic, especially as questions of her lineage and developing romantic feelings surround her, complicating matters. Penny is portrayed rather well by Rachel Melvin who manages to encapsulate a lot of the charm. This plot point does give us a further look into the history of the duo, and in turn, does also lead to an extended appearance by the great Kathleen Turner. The broader scheming machinations of Penny’s adoptive family and in part evoke the similar scheme in the Farrelly Brothers previous Three Stooges film, with both handling the would-be assassin in a similar slapstick fashion. The ersatz T.E.D. conference is an inspired touch, much like the Aspen gala, that gives yet another arena for our duo to act out their patented comedy. With the addition of Larry trying to blend in as the esteemed professor, Penny’s adoptive father, offering a cherry on the comedy cake.
Dumb and Dumber To offers a classic return-to-form for Harry and Lloyd, almost as if they were cryogenically frozen, willing to resume capering without wasting a beat. The slapstick silliness does return, and in a sequel, what more could you ask for, it’s nice to see both Jim Carey and Jeff Daniels have still got it, even after taking on substantially different roles in the interim. If Lloyd can spend 20 years committed to the delivery of a simple gag, you can spend roughly two hours reacquainting yourself with the humour of Dumb and Dumber.
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