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Dumb and Dumber
1994 - PG-13 - 101 Mins.
Director: Peter and Bobby Farrelly
Producer: Brad Krevoy, Steve Stabler
Written By: Bennett Yellin and Peter Farrelly
Starring: Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels, Lauren Holly, Harland Williams, Mike Starr
Review by: John Ulmer
   
The Marx Brothers. Laurel and Hardy. Abbott and Costello. Jerry Lewis. Every generation has their dose of silliness. The 1990s had Jim Carrey. And along with him came the phenonemal hit "Dumb and Dumber," a simple tale of two numbskulls who journey to Aspen in search of a woman and happiness.

Now I'm not a very big fan of Jim Carrey, but if this role wasn't made for him I don't know what was. Every line is muttered with idiotic naivety. Like when Carrey's character, Lloyd Christmas, trades in his pal's van for a motorized scooter. "Some kid back in town traded the van for it straight up." And then, gazing at the scooter admirably, he says, "I can get seventy miles to the gallon on this hog." Or when he is looking for someone's name in a phonebook, and he has forgotten the person's last name. His best-buddy, Harry Dunne (Jeff Daniels), says, "Maybe it's on the briefcase." Lloyd looks at it. "Oh yeah, it's right here. Samsonite. Man, I was wayyy off! I knew it started with an 's' though!"

But maybe I'm getting ahead of myself. Our tale begins when Lloyd (Carrey) is escorting a young woman named Mary Swanson (the gorgeous Lauren Holly, who Carrey eventually married and then divorced) to an airport. He falls in love with her in the few minutes they share in the limousine, and after he has dropped her off, he watches her from the outside in his limo and sees her leave behind a black briefcase on the floor inside the airport. Rushing inside, he grabs the briefcase, only to find someone closing the gate to her plane. "It's okay, I'm a limo driver!" he yells to a ticket checker, rushing down the airport jetway and running straight off of it, falling onto the cement runway below.

After retreating very defeatedly to his apartment, he convinces his pal Harry (Daniels) to come with him to Aspen to return the briefcase to Mary. Harry, the smarter one (or is that dumbless one?), at first hesitates, and then reluctantly agrees, and so they are off. Little do they know that the briefcase they carry is actually ransom money that Mary was trying to pay to get her husband returned to her. Now with hitment on their tail, Lloyd and Harry make it to Aspen only to wreak even more havoc.

Comedic timing is everything in a comedy like this. Carrey and Daniels have chemistry and timing. Check out the scene where they are at the National Preservation Society Gala, and stand at a bar in bright, tasteless suits. The way they stand, talk, and interact is as if they really are busom-buddies, two idiots without a clue. Their jokes fly off one another with poignant accuracy. The interaction between Carrey and Daniels is one of the most memorable examples of comedic perfection I have ever seen. Don't believe me? That's what is so surprising about "Dumb and Dumber." It appears to be a rude, crude comedy at first, but is actually a classic example of fine comedy.

The film is directed by The Farrelly Brothers, Peter and Bobby. You may remember them as the men who brought us the hilarious "There's Something About Mary." But truth be told, "Dumb and Dumber" is even better than "Mary." Whereas "Mary" was a fun summer comedy with big laughs and tons of crude sex jokes, "Dumb and Dumber" is a true comedic gem, and carefully borders the line of tastelessness and taste, something "Mary" crosses over and never turns back to.

Consider the irony that the film's most-advertised player, Jim Carrey, isn't even as funny as his counterpart, Jeff Daniels, who contains more subtle elements of humor within. Whereas Jim is loud and obnoxious and funny, Jeff often looks lost in thought, which is funny because we all know that he is dumb and therefore has no significant thoughts.

In a lot of ways "Dumb and Dumber" reminds me of "Planes, Trains and Automobiles," a tale about a traveling businessman trying to make it home in time for Thanksgiving, who suffers grief and misery thanks to situations and an obnoxious shower-curtain-ring salesman. The film starred Steve Martin and John Candy, two bumbling men who had a knack for making the most anguish appear in a possible situation. That movie is my all-time favorite comedy. I considered the similarity between the two films, and the fact that both are on my Favorites List. I thought at first that I must have a love of road-travel films deep within me. But then upon closer inspection I realized it is not the traveling of the film I love, it is the character interaction. Steve Martin and John Candy had a comedic chemistry, a flair, and every line muttered was incredibly realistic, like the scene where Martin lets loose his anger on a rental car agency secretary by bombarding her with 17 f-words (how sad is it that I counted?). In "Dumb and Dumber," the two main characters are utter goofballs, two idiots with no bad intentions, and probably no intentions at all. They are idiots, pure and simple, and the film doesn't supply us with a backdrop or a confusing plot as an excuse for their existence. They're just there. To make us laugh, to make us cry, and to make us have a fun time, plain and simple. And they succeed. Whether it is Lloyd duping a blind kid into buying a dead parakeet or Harry getting his tongue stuck on the icy metal pole of a chairlift frame, "Dumb and Dumber" is a good reminder for us all to sit back, relax and have a jolly good time. It isn't a thoughtful film, it doesn't have a meaningful purpose under its exterior, it's just outrageously, unrelentlessy funny. And that is why "Dumb and Dumber" will always be one of my personal favorites.
 
Movie Guru Rating
An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant. An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant. An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant. An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant. An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant.
  4.5 out of 5 stars

 
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