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Movie Review:
Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd
By Matt Singer

06.17.03


This is what I get for trying to be nice. A friend of mine says he wants to see Dumb and Dumberer, and I tag along like the chum that I am. What a mistake; Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd is the least funny movie I have seen in theaters in many months - the last time I was this squirmy in a movie theater was Stealing Harvard, which I also foolishly followed a friend to. When will I learn?

Dumb and Dumberer is the product of the current cinematic climate, where everything has sequel potential. In this case, the stars (Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels) and original creators (Peter and Bobby Farrelly, later of There’s Something About Mary and the underrated Me, Myself, and Irene) could not be swayed, or possibly paid, to make a sequel to the 1994’s Dumb and Dumber. Perhaps in some other time in Hollywood’s history, this would have meant the end of the discussion. In 2003, New Line Cinema hired some new writers and directors (Robert Brenner and Mr. Show’s Troy Miller), and filled the starring roles with young impersonators (Eric Christian Olsen as Dumb and Derek Richardson as Dumberer). The result is like a Blue Hawaii remake starring an Elvis impersonator.

More specifically, Olsen plays Lloyd and Richardson plays Harry - both doing an excellent job of mimicking the performances from the original, though Olsen clearly has the edge in physical resemblance - with the bowl cut and chipped tooth, he really does look like Carrey’s character would have in high school. Though the performers are game, the script is truly a case of dumb and dumberer, lacking a single funny line of dialogue in the entire movie. In fact, there is only one big laugh in the picture, a throwaway piece of background noise during a Thanksgiving parade, as a nameless voice proclaims “And now our marching band with a stirring tribute to stuffing.” That’s funny. The rest of the film? Not so much.


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The plot only tangentially involves Harry and Lloyd, as their high school principal (Eugene Levy) and his lunch lady paramour (Cheri Oteri) scheme to steal $100,000 from the public school system by establishing a “Special Needs.” Since the school has no genuinely handicapped students, it falls to our two heroic nimrods to pick up the slack. This concept could be turned into a fine comedy with the right spin and wit, but the script can’t seem to find anything funny. The Farrellys have poked gentle, almost appreciative humor at the handicapped in their films. The best Brenner and Miller can scrounge up in the special class is unfunny and often mean humor about how weird Chinese people sound. Deflating racism can be funny - see Blazing Saddles - but Dumb and Dumberer‘s handling of the topic just seems like cruel mockery.

Levy, who provided the comedic spark to the American Pie films and most recently Bringing Down The House, tries his best, and even finds some nice chemistry with Oteri, but there are literally no jokes in the script (Similarly, Mimi Rogers and Luis Guzman are utterly wasted in their roles as Harry and Lloyd’s respective single parents). Carrey and Daniels were able to make their dumbness endearing. It may have had to do with the hugeness of their quest, or possibly their limitless innocence. Without any jokes, Olsen and Richardson’s stupidity just tends to grate on one’s nerves - such as a lengthy riff on how Slushees can give you a headache. I’m not sure what to make of the scene where Harry and Lloyd, wandering the streets in search of their school come to the corner of Stan and Oliver. These guys are a long way off from Laurel and Hardy, and I can’t imagine those two guys letting someone else who looked and acted like them make a movie using their likenesses.

Ultimately you get too much of what you pay for with Dumb and Dumberer, and that’s with a heavily padded eighty minute running time. Sure Harry and Lloyd should be boobs, but how does the “smart” character ransack the principal’s office and NOT find the giant, conspicuous treasure chest sitting in the corner? Even the poop and fart jokes reek of desperation (pun most definitely intended!). Have I learned my lesson? As an aspiring critic, it falls to me to ideally see every film released. So I will no doubt continue finding my way into films this horrible. But it is not too late for you avoid seeing this terrible film. Don’t be the “er” in Dumberer.

 

 
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