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Review by Dustin Putman
1½ stars out of 4
The initial pitch for "Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd" might
have sounded like an interesting idea. Without the participation of
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels, the original stars of 1994's "Dumb and
Dumber," the sequel would actually be a prequel, chronicling how the
world's dumbest pair of friends first met back in their high school
days, circa 1986. Under the unwatchful helm of writer-director Troy
Miller and co-screenwriter Robert Brenner, however, the results are
less than admirable and almost completely devoid of any comedic inspiration.
When all is said and done, "Dumb and Dumberer" is nothing more than
a cheap-looking, desperate attempt by New Line Cinema to ruthlessly
suck the pockets dry of every fan of its infinitely superior predecessor.
The premise is every bit as dim-witted as its lead characters, Lloyd
Christmas (Eric Christian Olsen) and Harry Dunne (Derek Richardson).
After literally knocking into each other, Lloyd and Harry meet on
the first day of the new school year and, with their intelligence
(or lack thereof) equaling each other's, they become quick comrades.
They are instantly elected into a year-long "Special Needs" class
headed by Principal Collins (Eugene Levy) and his daffy girlfriend,
school lunchlady Ms. Heller (Cheri Oteri), and soon have enrolled
a rag-tag group of lazy teen misfits to join them. What Harry and
Lloyd fail to realize, and lovely school reporter Jessica Matthews
(Rachel Nichols) suspects, is that their new class is nothing more
than a scam by Principal Collins and Ms. Heller to swindle money from
a charity fundraiser.
"Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd" is asinine, lame, and pointless.
Its scope is minuscule, its plot is inconsequential fluff (even by
the standards of a low-brow teen comedy), and its idea of sparkling
comedy is to show Harry and Lloyd playing a game of tag in a convenience
store, much to the annoyance of the fed-up clerk. Harry and Lloyd
may be total lunkheads, but the humor that was elicited from this
very fact in the original "Dumb and Dumber" was clever, smart, and
genuinely funny. Meanwhile, "Dumb and Dumberer" reaches for the lowest-common-denominator
at every turn. Unlike comedy kings Bobby and Peter Farrelly, director
Troy Miller has no idea how to adequately set up a joke and milk it
for all its worth. In all fairness, there's no good material to milk even if he could.
Even the film's portrayal of the 1980's is all wrong, with a soundtrack
that features far more current song selections than those from the
decade it is actually set in. The production design by Paul Huggins
and costumes by Susanna Puisto are uninspired, at best. And the chipped
front tooth that Lloyd sports is laughably fake, appearing as if a
black marker was sloppily run over it before every scene. For a big-screen
venture, "Dumb and Dumberer" too often feels like a movie made by
middle-schoolers with a budget to meet their weekly allowances.
By comparison, the cast is eclectic and energetic--two adjectives
a viewer is sure not to use while describing anything else about this
failure of a movie. As Harry and Lloyd, newcomer Derek Richardson
and Eric Christian Olsen (2001's "Not Another Teen Movie") so closely
resemble their famed older counterparts, Jeff Daniels and Jim Carrey,
it often seems as if the original actors were transported back in
time. Richardson and Olsen keep up surprisingly high spirits as they
wade through scene after aimless scene. Rachel Nichols (2000's "Autumn
in New York") also shows some vivacious spark as the object of Harry
and Lloyd's affections, Jessica Matthews.
As the nefarious Principal Collins, the participation of Eugene Levy
(2003's "A Mighty Wind") is mindboggling. Now that he is a hot commodity
due to the "American Pie" series, Levy certainly couldn't have been
so hard-up for work as to have been forced into such a dreary role,
but here is. Cheri Oteri (2000's "Scary Movie") has slightly more
to do as Ms. Heller, bringing her usual offbeat attributes to a one-dimensional
part. And as the other "Special Needs" students, Elden Henson (2001's
"O"), Shia LaBeouf (2003's "Holes"), Michelle Krusiec (2002's "Sweet
Home Alabama"), and Josh Braaten show signs that they are certainly
more capable than what is demanded of them here.
Whereas "Dumb and Dumber" was not only a well-written "stupid" comedy,
it was also kind of sweet in its scenes with love interest Lauren
Holly. "Dumb and Dumberer" is just plain moronic, holding its audience
in contempt and expecting them to be as brain-deficient as Harry and
Lloyd by not realizing a bad movie when they see one. Luckily, at
only 83 minutes, it's over before it really has a chance to become
unbearable. That is about the biggest compliment that could possibly
be paid to "Dumb and Dumberer." At least they got the title right.
Copyright © 2003 Dustin Putman