Right now I'm juggling two reviews on deadline: the Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything, and Dumb and Dumber To. I'll try not to get them confused.
Both movies include people of extraordinary intellect or lack thereof in wheelchairs. The Theory of Everything features a life-saving, world-changing surgery. In Dumb and Dumber To someone swaps an organ for a pork chop.
Let's do the funny one first. Hawking is an astrophysicist …
I'm kidding. That was silly, downright stupid and completely uncalled for. Kind of like Dumb and Dumber To, which is practically the same movie as 1994's Dumb and Dumber (Wun, I guess) except aging hasn't brought a lick of wisdom. Desperation, maybe.
Co-directors Peter and Bobby Farrelly certainly have reason to scramble, their naughty slapstick rendered as comically obsolete as banana peels in the Apatow-Rogan era. Jim Carrey is desperate to be on top again, hence that level-up mania in his performance. Jeff Daniels is desperate to be Carrey and shouldn't try as hard because his mugging isn't as funny.
Twenty years later, Lloyd Christmas (Carrey) is catatonic in a cuckoo's nest, visited weekly by best friend and stupidity peer Harry Dunne (Daniels). Harry has bad news his pal apparently can't hear, except Lloyd can because it's all a gag. For 20 years. Harry thinks it's awesome.
Harry needs a kidney transplant, and his parents — obviously adoptive, but this is Harry here — can't offer help. Then comes news that Harry may be a father from an encounter 20 years ago, which could provide a kidney match. Lloyd sticks by his friend, offering to do anything to help find his offspring. The fact that Penny (Rachel Melvin) is a nubile hottie doesn't hurt.
Dumb and Dumber To has another family deception in which Lloyd and Harry meddle, a plot to murder Penny's adoptive father and steal his invention worth a billion dollars. It's a plot thread frayed by mistaken identity and Rob Riggle twice as off-putting in a double role. But it does keep Melvin on the screen, a fetching newcomer with some sparkle to her ditz.
The Farrellys whip up a miss-or-hit affair, the best jokes coming without much set-up, just non sequiturs and malapropisms like Lloyd convincing Harry to find Penny: "She's the fruit of your loom." Or throwaway physical gags, like Carrey dabbing his mustard stained chin with a hot dog bun.
Some scenes recapture that old Farrelly spirit, like a plan to steal hearing aids going ickily wrong and a spoof of TED conferences where intellectuals discuss anything while listeners stroke their chins. One brainiac there is in a wheelchair, speaking through a computer, absolutely the only thing about Hawking, Harry and Lloyd their movies have in common.
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