Before the first movie, there was high school and they missed the bus.
A collective groan (this reviewer included) filled the airwaves of America upon the announcement of this prequel. Audiences stayed away and the film sank away without a trace at the theaters. Does this mean the film is a stinker?
Let's just find out, won't we?
Facts of the Case
Set eighteen years before the events of Dumb and Dumber, the story begins with Harry Dunne (Derek Richardson) arriving at high school. Coaxed by his mother under the guise of a treasure map from his imaginary friend, Harry makes a real friend when he runs into Lloyd Christmas (Eric Christian Olsen), who happens to be a bigger idiot than he is.
The main plot is set into motion when Principal Collins (the always-reliable Eugene Levy) cooks up an embezzlement scheme of genius. He will start a "special needs" class and run off to Hawaii with the $100,000 grant. And guess who are the first two students?
Okay, I know Dumb and Dumberer sounds terrible. Even I had grave doubts about this sequel. How could they even think of even attempting to follow up one of the funniest comedies of the 1990s? And with two unknowns to boot?
Imagine my surprise when I found myself actually enjoying this film as it progressed. Yes, you read that right. I liked Dumb and Dumberer! Now before you throw me into the local mental institution, allow me to explain. I knew going in that this wasn't going to be anything great. Lo and behold, it isn't. But by expecting so little going in, I think I was able to see more in what was present than most would. The story is admittedly thin, but there are big laughs and some clever comedy sprinkled in here.
I knew there was no way that the comic timing and chemistry of Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels could be recreated. I was wrong. Richardson and Olsen actually do a good job of channeling the spirit of Daniels and Carrey here. Olsen is especially impressive, getting the Carrey mannerisms and goofy charm down pat. Richardson struggles at first, but eventually inhabits the sad sack Harry well enough. More importantly, they have chemistry and work well together. Many comedies often pair actors without looking for any chemistry. The filmmakers and casting agents got this one right.
A lot of familiar faces populate the supporting cast. Eugene Levy adds to an already colorful gallery of supporting performances, proving he is the premier comic character actor working today. Cheri Oteri is a hoot as Levy's partner in crime, accentuating each line of dialogue with a unique touch of her own. Luis Guzman is funny as Lloyd's father (his part was much bigger in the original cut), and it's always great to see Bob Saget, even if it is a cameo. And for my lonely guy portion of this review, what a cutie pie Rachel Nichols is! She also has potential as an actress, and I look forward to seeing more of her in the future.
New Line presents the film on DVD as part of their "Platinum Series," and as par with that label, they give Dumb and Dumberer a solid DVD package. The 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer looks good overall. There is a little too much grain present, but that may be due to the choice of film stock rather than the fault of the technician. This wasn't an expensive film to make, so I forgive it. Colors do look nice and vibrant and the only real problem is a little edge enhancement here and there.
Sound is better, with a Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround mix. The film doesn't do anything groundbreaking or challenging with sound, but the music and dialogue are essential components of this film, even with all the physical comedy. It's a clean, crisp mix that is satisfying and I have no problems with it.
There are quite a few extras on this disc, surprising for a box office flop. A commentary track with director Troy Miller and stars Richardson and Olsen is a surprisingly entertaining and informative one. However, avoid the other two commentaries…one by a pair of fake movie critics and one purporting to be the Ciccone (get it?) Family. I couldn't bear listening to these after 15 minutes apiece and I know what pain is like—I sat through America X-Treme and Barfighter.
"Casting the Perfect Dummies" runs 25 minutes and gives you a look into the casting of the film. It's worth a look and has some good information. One note I must make: this documentary features further proof that Shia La Beouf (Holes) has some deep problems. First, his bizarre behavior at the Daytime Emmys threw up warning signs. Now, in an interview with his mom, he proceeds to tell her "Mom, you're f***ing this up!" If I said the same thing to my mom, I'd be orbiting Neptune instead of writing this review. He should be ashamed of himself.
"Dumb and Dangerous" is a brief look into the film's production. If you listen to the Miller/Richardson/Olsen commentary and watch this, you'll know everything you'd want to know about the making of Dumb and Dumberer.
Nine deleted scenes are included with optional commentary from Miller, Richardson, and Olsen. These deleted scenes aren't too bad as far as these things go and some of them should have remained in the final cut.
A blooper reel is included and proves Roger Ebert correct: bloopers in and of themselves are not funny.
Theatrical trailers are included in anamorphic widescreen. Well worth a look.
I enjoyed Dumb and Dumberer, but many out there will not. Only a rental will make up your mind. The $27.95 price tag is too steep for a film like this one.
Next case please!
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Scales of Justice
Studio: New Line
• Commentary by Director Troy Miller and Stars Derek Richardson and Eric Christian Olsen
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