New Line // 1994 // 113 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Clark Douglas // January 5th, 2009
More dumber than ever!
"Yeah, I called her up, she gave me a bunch of crap about not listening to her or something, I don't know, I wasn't really paying attention."
Harry (Jeff Daniels, Gettysburg) is a pretty dumb guy. He has a job cleaning dogs for wealthy people, but he usually manages to get the canines even dirtier than they were when he received them. Harry has just been fired from his job.
Lloyd (Jim Carrey, The Truman Show) is a pretty dumb guy. He has a job as a limo driver. One day, he drives a beautiful woman (Lauren Holly, What Women Want) to the airport, and falls in love with her in the process. Before the day is over, Lloyd has wrecked the limousine. Lloyd has just been fired from his job.
Mary, the beautiful woman I mentioned a moment ago, is not a dumb woman. However, she is quite troubled. A loved one has been kidnapped. She was instructed to leave a briefcase full of cash at the airport. Mary did precisely that, but she didn't count on Lloyd. He saw Mary leave the briefcase behind, and assumed that she had lost her luggage. Lloyd is intent on returning the briefcase to Mary, who has flown to Aspen.
Now there are several rough thugs intent on recovering the briefcase that was supposed to fall into their hands. Lloyd and Harry, having nothing better to do, decide to hit the road and go to Aspen. Little do they know that they are being pursued by some very dangerous people who would love to put Lloyd and Harry six feet under. Will these two idiots survive long enough to discover just what a horrible mess they've gotten themselves into?
In many ways, Dumb and Dumber has a significant place in cinematic history. The film was the directorial debut of brothers Peter and Bobby Farrelly, who have since gone on to helm a string of similarly crass comedies. Lead actor Jim Carrey had previously received recognition for his work on the Ace Ventura films, The Mask, and In Living Color, but it was surely Dumb and Dumber that shot him to mega-stardom. The film is also arguably the grandfather of the modern era of dumb comedy, inspiring countless imitations. Cinema has always been subjected to dumb comedies about dumb characters, but Dumber and Dumber seemingly took things to the next level. As Richard Widmark once said about Forrest Gump, the film is, "a hymn to stupidity." It's a story of idiots who continue to survive thanks to sheer dumb luck. The jolly fools are the heroes, while the intelligent people in the film (well, the few it has) are mostly snobs and bores.
When Dumber and Dumber was released in 1994, many film critics responded with enthusiasm. I suppose that such a shameless celebration of stupidity felt like cinematic anarchy at the time. Many of the positive comments were something along the lines of, "The film may be about a couple of dumb guys, but it's a very smart comedy." No, no, no. Idiocracy is a smart comedy about dumb characters. Dumb and Dumber is simply dumb. The film's gags are so childish and poorly-executed that they could have been staged by Harry and Lloyd. For every laugh in the film, there are a dozen groan-worthy moments. This a film that gets it's jollies from congestion-filled burgers, explosive diarrhea, a cop drinking a bottle of urine, and other such delights. Even the basic shock value the film once claimed has been wiped out by the modern Jackass generation. In 2008, with dumb comedy going to nastier extremes (Meet the Spartans, anyone?) and comedy in general being hijacked by the far-more-intelligent Judd Apatow crowd, Dumb and Dumber plays as nothing more than a childish distraction.
The two leads can't seem to find a way to make these characters work. Jim Carrey offers up his usual energy level here, but his sense of comic invention seems to be missing. Even so, he fares better than Jeff Daniels. I've always really liked Daniels, and it saddens me to think that this is still perhaps his most famous role. He's such a talented comedic and dramatic actor, but here it feels like he's playing down to the material. Meanwhile, Lauren Holly is given little to do, but she's a good sport when forced to participate in obnoxious sequences. As a reward, she isn't forced to share her happily ever after with one of the lead characters. One of the most talented cast members here is Teri Garr, who made me laugh just a few days ago when I watched Young Frankenstein again. Though Garr gets prominent billing, she does not have a single scene in which she gets to take the spotlight. Mostly, she's just piddling around the background, receiving no interesting lines of any sort.
The hi-def transfer is disappointing. I don't know why, but it seems that most recent hi-def comedy double-dips haven't really received great treatment in the A/V or supplemental departments. That's a shame, making it nearly impossible to recommend any sort of upgrade for a film like this. Grain appears at varying levels throughout the film, and we also get a steady stream of scratches and flecks. The image isn't exceptionally vibrant, quite frequently seeming a bit too soft and washed-out. The film doesn't look terrible, but it seems that very little work was put into this transfer. Audio is respectable enough and gets the job done, but is never attention-grabbing or exceptional in any way. Ho-hum.
Before I dig into the supplements, I should note that you don't get the theatrical version of the film here. Only the unrated version in included, which mostly makes the gross-out moments a little less pleasant. Bonus features from the previous unrated DVD have been repeated here. "Still Dumb After All These Years" (18 minutes) is a brief retrospective featurette, while "Deliriously Dumb Moments" (7 minutes) focuses on some of the film's famous scenes. We also get over 30 minutes of deleted scenes and alternate endings, which are as hit-and-miss as the film itself. Finally, some amusing trailers wrap things up.
It is the duty of any critic to be honest if a film made him or her laugh, and Dumb and Dumber did make me laugh on several occasions. My favorite moment involves an unfortunate parakeet, while another delightful giggle comes from Carrey's failed attempt to catch a plane. I chuckled a few times throughout the film, but far more frequently I was wrinkling my nose and making the sort of funny face one makes when they smell some sort of unpleasant body odor.
An unremarkable transfer and a recycled batch of supplements would be enough to prevent me from recommending the disc. The fact that the film simply hasn't held up very well at all seals the deal. Pass on this dumb disc.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: New Line
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p Widescreen)
* TrueHD 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (German)
Running Time: 113 Minutes
Release Year: 1994
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Additional and Alternate Scenes