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Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd

  Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd
Lettuce, on a hot dog?!

© 2003, New Line
All Rights Reserved

The summer of 2003 will probably be remembered best for resurrecting long dormant franchises. Audiences had to wait four years for "The Matrix" to be reloaded, eight years for the "Bad Boys" to blow things up again, and a whopping 12 years for the Terminator to reappear and rise against the machines. But those are all shake-n-bake action films tailor made for endless sequels; 1994's "Dumb and Dumber," on the other hand, was an inconsequential comedy before release, and ended up with huge box office grosses. It also featured the debut of the Farrelly Brothers as directors, and solidified Jim Carrey's career as king of comedies. So what does New Line Cinema have in store for audiences who've been slavishly waiting 9 years for a follow-up? Well, they didn't bother to hire any of the original creative team back, brought in unknowns to replace them, and have produced a prequel that defiantly sets out to destroy every single nuance that made the arguably classic original such a beloved comedy.

We're traveling back to 1986, with Harry Dunne (Derek Richardson) and Lloyd Christmas (Eric Christian Olsen, "The Hot Chick") back in high school, generally making nuisances of themselves. When evil Principal Collins (Eugene "House Payment" Levy) plots a scheme to defraud the local community out of $100,000, he needs some students to pose as "special needs" children to help sell the scheme. Of course Harry and Lloyd sign up for the opportunity to represent their school, and soon become caught up in the shady dealings, never quite catching on to what's really going on.

Love them or hate them, at least the Farrelly Brothers had a unique touch with their original material. The Brothers brought a sweetness to Harry and Lloyd, and for every three gross-out gags or comedic misunderstandings, there was a scene of genuine emotional resonance to temper the diarrhea set pieces. "Dumb And Dumber" might not have been a classy production, but it had a big heart, and even bigger laughs. "Dumberer" (IMDb listing) is an inferior and greedy knockoff, relentlessly reproducing the Farrelly picture to a point where I was positive they were just running footage from the first film. Director and co-screenwriter Troy Miller ("Jack Frost" and the unreleased Mr. Show film, "Run Ronnie Run") is under the impression that the crowds showed up in large quantities back in 1994 just for the cheap laughs, so he's filled the entire film with them here. Miller treats the previous creation as a blueprint to steal from, taking an assortment of bodily fluid scenes and replicating them here (Harry's bathroom problems, Lloyd's elaborate fantasies).

Miller also makes the mistake of treating Lloyd and Harry as true idiots, where as the Farrellys created an entire insulated world free of outside abuse for the duo to exist in. This makes the film one long gag instead of something engaging and just a tiny bit loveable. Miller had the opportunity to take the Farrelly film and build on it with even more absurdity, but he was content to shadow the original meticulously and play to the broader audience that is only paying to see Harry soil himself and hear Bob "Full House" Saget swear repetitively.

Equally as lazy as the screenwriting is the time period where Miller has set the film. 1986 is the year listed in the opening title cards, yet there is little 1986 lying around in the film. Maybe a period jacket here and there, but you see a lot of extras with modern hair, the main characters using modern slang, and hear some of the latest tunes on the soundtrack. Before you say, "Heavens, this is 'Dumb and Dumberer,' Brian! What do you expect?" I reply with this: Miller picked the time period, and he could've exploited it for all it was worth (like "The Wedding Singer" did). Instead, the potential of 1986 just lies there, waiting for some background object or actor to give it away in every frame.

The only minor revelation of "Dumberer" is Eric Christian Olsen's manically obedient impression of Jim Carrey. It's remarkable to behold the way Olsen has trained himself to mimic every minute movement Carrey perfected in "Dumber." Occasionally the reproduction is too perfect, bringing up thoughts of a film that might have been had New Line been more aggressive in getting the real talent back to make a sequel. But Olsen's mastery of the madcap Carrey way is often entertaining enough to bring some smiles into a film that seems like it's created to do the opposite.

Filmfodder Grade: D-

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