Monday, November 17, 2014

Moonlight Movie Reviews - Dumb and Dumber To

Back at the movies again! Me, AND the guys...

Yep, I was among the throngs of people who went into the theater for a nostalgic trip with Harry and Lloyd this past weekend, and that's just what I got. No more, no less.

Let's begin, though, with our usual Alamo Drafthouse preshow sampler...

That Dana Carvey/Steve Carel bit is pretty hilarious, you should look it up. Two very Dumb and Dumber type guys attempting to prank various business. Now, getting back to the main feature...

So, Harry and Lloyd, our two friends from the 1994 smash hit, "Dumb and Dumber",... and a much maligned direct-to-video prequel, but between those two, a pretty fun Saturday morning cartoon show. 20 years later, they're back. And, I guess they're in their... fifties? They look pretty good, not that different, Jim especially, and they are back in form as one of the all-time greatest comic duos one-hundred percent.

The film picks up, naturally, 20 years later, where we discover (though the trailers shared this with us already) that we haven't missed much. Lloyd has been playing a two-decade long prank on Harry, pretending to be a in a vegetative state at a local hospital where Harry has been loyally visiting and caring for him every day. Until one day, when Harry reveals to Lloyd that he is desperately in need of a kidney and has no one to turn to. Lloyd finally reveals his hilarious gag, and the two are back in action once again.

Lloyd, of course, makes excuses to not give Harry one of his own kidneys, when the decide what they really need is a biological match. So, they visit Harry's adoptive parents in the hopes one of them is willing to share. This visit leads them to discover a very old letter from old flame Fraida Felcher saying she is pregnant. Harry and Lloyd decide to track down Harry's newly discovered daughter since she will surely want to help her father out. Though, Lloyd has other motivations. Upon seeing a photo of Harry's daughter, he's fallen instantly in-love... Again.

Yeah, I know, this was all revealed by the trailer. Well, this movie is less about plot than it is about the personalities and jokes. Same with the first. And, like the first, it has a criminal scheme unfolding, as Harry's presumed daughter, Penny, who is indeed hot but also possibly dumber than Harry and Lloyd combined, is in grave danger from her adoptive father's wife and the man she's having an affair with. The couple has been conspiring to kill Penny's dad and make off with his fortune, and now, Penny is in the way, which means Harry and Lloyd will soon be in the way as well.

Okay, I'm not going to give away anymore than that. There's not a lot more. If the film sounds very similar to the first, yeah, it is, with the added interest of Lloyd's new infatuation possibly being Harry's daughter and Harry having a medical emergency. They do the smart thing here in making the film different from the first. Just as Toy Story 2, another adventure that was a sequel to a hit buddy road comedy, the focus of the journey this time is switched to the other lead. Though, unlike in the Toy Story films, as I said, this movie is mainly about the gags, not the plot. It's still a fun and interesting plot, but the jokes are what we're here for.

So, how are the jokes? Well, hmm... This movie has new jokes, and old jokes. I'll be honest, I came out of this film feeling it was rather tepid. The old jokes were no longer fresh. I mean, you felt every call back to the first film. The new jokes... most weren't that great. People much pickier than me seem to be loving this sequel. I think my own expectations were a bit too high. I'm not saying it is bad. I knew it could be bad, and I was concerned. It wasn't bad. It was pretty par for the course with these nostalgia sequels though. Or, at least, how I feel about a lot of these nostalgic sequels. It was a nice revisit to old characters, and these guys were really just as great as ever in terms of BEING Harry and Lloyd, but the writing, at least in terms of the gags, to me felt like it was doing that thing where it tries so hard that it fails a lot? Or, not really fails, but just doesn't make me laugh out loud like the first film did. This film has funny jokes, they just aren't as fresh, and some of the old ones felt contrived. I'm not saying I didn't enjoy "Dumb and Dumber To", but I didn't enjoy it as much as the first, or even as much as revisiting the first, which I've done plenty of times, if not all that extremely recently. This sequel is a fun comedy for the nostalgia of it, but the bottom line, it feels weak compared to the first. It just could have been, well, funnier.

There are times though, when it's pretty darn funny, I'm looking at this on the whole. I do recommend going to catch this film, just go in not expecting it to be as amazing as the first. If you do, you'll probably enjoy it a lot. In fact, it picks up a lot after the guys hit the road, but maybe I was already feeling a bit sad by then. For me, these 20 year later sequels really need to strike the right note early in the film and hold it there. Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels were fantastic, as I keep saying, as Lloyd and Harry again, but with a lot of the material they were given being kinda weak, I think it's the fresh face of Rachel Melvin as Penny who really picks things up, especially when interacting with Lloyd. As lame as it is to quote someone else's movie review, ha, Brad "Cinema Snob" Jones nailed it when saying these two are so perfect for each other you actually want them to end up together, despite Lloyd being like 30 years older, ha. 

So, yeah, "Dumb and Dumber To" is not without its charm. Maybe I'm being a bit hard on it overall, because I wanted this to blow people away. But, hey, it seems to be doing great, so I guess that's something to smile about, even though I wish it had blown me away too. I liked it, I'll buy the blu-ray and watch it more, and probably like it more each time, or maybe not, but I do recommend going to see it if you were a fan of the first. Nostalgia is a big part of enjoying this film, but it does have its moments too, just don't expect TOO much going in, and enjoy your reunion with Harry and Lloyd. And, yes, do stay through the credits.

Oh yeah, and if you didn't care for the prequel, well, this movie totally makes it non-canon, so no worries. That movie was well cast though, ya gotta admit that. Don't remember it well enough to say anything more.

I'll catch you guys next time, and remember, next October, Wizard World Texas 2015 here in Austin! will be there!


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