Dumb and Dumber To Dir. Peter and Bobby Farrelly

[Red Granite Pictures/New Line Cinema; 2014]

Styles: comedy, the decline of western civilization
Others: Dumb and Dumber, There’s Something About Mary, Airplane!

Right away, I’m going to apologize for turning the reviewer gaze inward over here. It’s tacky, I know… Lester Bangs is pretty much the only critic who could ever pull it off, and even acknowledging it and then apologizing for it seems like kind of a cliche by now. I’m sorry, I just don’t see any other way around this.

It’s really important to me, as a reviewer, to try and meet a film (or any other piece of art/media) on its own terms, and to not try and force it into my own ideal framework. The films of Luc Moullet or Guy Maddin, for example, are not inherently better (or worse) than that of Steven Spielberg or Ivan Reitman: they’re a completely different animal, and it’s ridiculous to compare them, no matter what both the snobs and Joe Blows of the world might say to the contrary. If you go into The Fast and the Furious looking for El Topo, or vice versa, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. That’s no way to live your life, my friends.

With that in mind, I truly tried to find the mindset of 12-year-old me to watch Dumb and Dumber To. Hey, I’ve managed this exact same feat for all of the X-Men movies (well, except The Last Stand, but that was their fault), so how hard could it really be?

The evolution of one’s sense of humor, however, moves at a different clip than that the desire to see the cinematic culmination of one’s youthful superhero fantasies. Either that, or Dumb and Dumber To is just that fucking stupid. Or both.

I just couldn’t hack it, and I doubt that any amount of controlled substances would have made a positive difference. I have no illusions of being above the stupid and vulgar: just because I’m the kind of guy who can fall in love with a movie that’s nothing but abstract moving light doesn’t mean I can’t also just chill and watch John Wick (which I did, and I even paid to get in). Hell, I went to see Police Academy at a cheap-seats theater earlier this year and had a great time.

However: the Farrelly Brothers are almost never funny. Fart and butthole jokes are almost never funny. In fact, Jim Carrey is almost never funny, unless you’re a tween (and even then, don’t the current crop of tweens have someone else yet?). Misogyny, racism, violence against children, making fun of the elderly and the mentally challenged? You can see where this is going.

I dunno, maybe I do think I’m above it. I was 13 when the first Dumb and Dumber came out, and even then I remember thinking that it was an insult to my intelligence (which is not to say that I didn’t love seeing it and quoting it with my friends). I was a pretentious little twat, but maybe I was onto something.

When I worked as a cashier at Borders about a decade ago, I once rang up a purchase for Jeff Daniels. He seemed put out to be recognized, even though I didn’t show any particular enthusiasm for his presence nor call anyone else’s attention to it. I told him that his film Escanaba in da Moonlight (which he wrote, directed, produced, and starred in) was selling like hotcakes at that particular store (which it was, being in close proximity to Daniels’s hometown of Chelsea, MI). Rather than being flattered or pleased, he grunted back, like a man defeated: “Well, people like comedy…” His emphasis on “comedy” suggested that it deserved no higher regard than the scat which routinely provides the “comedy” in a movie like Dumb and Dumber To.

I share this anecdote here because, frankly, I think it’s more interesting than anything I could say about Dumb and Dumber To. If you’re going to like it, you probably already know. If you’re not sure, you’re probably not reading TMT to find out.

I tried to find something here, people. I really did.

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