Sunday, October 6, 2013

5 Reasons Why ‘Dumb and Dumber To’ Will Not Be the Hilarious, Nostalgic Trip Back to Your Carefree Childhood You Hope It Will Be



There are a handful of movies that I can easily (and shamelessly) recite every single line of dialogue from: Scream (my favorite movie), Wayne’s World, Billy Madison, Ace Ventura, Joe Dirt, Anchorman, and finally, Dumb & Dumber.  

These movies are such an integral part of my childhood-movie-watching experience that I can’t help but look back on them fondly. I also cannot help but to watch them whenever they come on TV (which they do – a lot). 

Many of these films have at least one, if not multiple sequels – some of which are pretty good, others not so much. None of the sequels have or will tarnish the originals, but have they ever really been necessary (certainly not) or even wanted (debatable)? Like most things in Hollywood, it is all about making money.

This actually, and very unnecessarily, exists...

Because I (and many people of my generation) love these films (some more than others), it is hard not to get all warm and fuzzy inside when news comes out about a proposed sequel or reunion – even though you know you shouldn’t. 

As for Dumb and Dumber, there was that God-awful unofficial “sequel” – actually prequel – released in 2003 and titled, Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd, which was terrible in just about every way imaginable. (There was also a short-lived Saturday morning cartoon based on the movie that came out in 1995. It was predictably cancelled after only 13 episodes.)


No one from the original was involved (neither writer-directors Peter and Bobby Farrelly nor stars Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels). It is a movie better left forgotten. My, and pretty much everyone’s, reaction to it:

Watch the trailer if you dare:


And a clip from the equally awful TV show:


So years pass, and both are all but erased from public knowledge while the original still holds a special place in our hearts. So imagine the collective twenty-somethings’ mindset when the long rumored “true” sequel to the beloved ‘90s comedy was announced way back in 2011.


The prospect of catching up with Harry and Lloyd after all this years led to a feeling somewhere between uncontrollable wonderment  . . .


. . . and skeptical anticipation, perhaps?


Then, just a few months later, it was confirmed that stars Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels would be reprising their iconic roles as Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne. Immediately, that reserved interest quickly turned to rapturous glee, right?


Well finally, after two decades and several false starts (the original studio Warner Bros. passed on the project before Universal stepped in), the official Dumb and Dumber sequel – horrendously titled Dumb and Dumber To – is actually happening and currently filming in Atlanta. 

The film has reportedly recruited Kathleen Turner (supposedly playing the infamous "Fraida Felcher" mentioned in the original), Rob Riggle (playing twins, a handyman and his unstable brother), a not-so-secret Oscar-winning cameo (Jennifer Lawrence), and even a familiar face . . . Billy, the blind kid from 4C.


The studio released plot synopsis states that the film takes place “20 years after the dimwits set out on their first adventure, they head out in search of one of their long lost children in the hope of gaining a new kidney.” 

That . . . sounds . . . intriguing.


So with all the pieces now in place, stars Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels took to social media to build some more excitement...

 
  
Then, Daniels said to Los Angeles Times: "There are some things we're going to do in 'Dumb & Dumber 2' that are going to make the toilet scene look lame." (see video below). Pretty bold statement. 

And finally, Jim Carrey sent out this familiar pic, proving that Lloyd Christmas is truly back:



In all honesty, I want Dumb & Dumber To to be good. But I know it won’t be – so I am here to burst your bubble and let you know why it will suck:


1 – Sequels to films with decade-plus gaps in between rarely work (as in almost NEVER).

Dumb and Dumber To will be released next year – a full 20 years after the original! After you come down from the shock of how old that makes you feel, take a look at some other much-anticipated and long-awaited sequels and tell me if you still feel as hopeful and excited about a Dumb & Dumber sequel after all these years:


Tron: Legacy (28 years after Tron), Psycho II (23 years after Psycho), Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (23 years after Wall Street), Rambo (20 years after Rambo III), Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (19 years after The Last Crusade), Blues Brothers 2000 (18 years after The Blue Brothers), The Two Jakes (16 years after Chinatown), Basic Instinct 2 (14 years after Basic Instinct), Scream 4 (11 years after Scream 3), and countless (literally, countless) direct-to-dvd movies.

How does that make you feel about Dumb and Dumber To's potential and the 20 year gap? 


2 – Sequels, especially comedy sequels, are typically inferior films no matter how long the gap.


I am not saying that all sequels are bad (there are many enjoyable sequels) – but for the most part, even if good, they are still inferior to their predecessors. This goes double for comedy sequels – as many are just downright awful:

Ghostbusters 2, Caddyshack II, Teen Wolf Too, Fletch Lives, Airplane II: The Sequel, Major League II, Weekend at Bernie’s II, Be Cool, Evan Almighty, Hangover II (and III), and, of course, the previously mentioned Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd, plus a bunch of movies you have surely already forgotten about.

3 – Let’s face it, Jim Carrey is struggling and Jeff Daniels has moved on.


Jim Carrey - who on the heels of the first Dumb and Dumber, became the first $20 million movie star -  once ruled the comedy movie world. He is also one of the few comedic actors to successfully cross over into more dramatic fare. But let’s be honest, Carrey’s career has been struggling of late.

He really has not been in anything great since 2004 (2009’s I Love You Phillip Morris, though not great, is underrated). His appearance earlier this year in Kick-Ass 2 was a nice change of pace for him, but overall, the movie underwhelmed.  Do you really think he can recapture his mid-90s glory by revisiting one of his most memorable movies? I don’t think so.

It is sad to say, but Jim Carrey is no longer comedically relevant. To be honest, Carrey should follow Bill Murray’s example and stick to mostly dramatic/semi-dramatic roles, only dipping his toes back into true comedy when a really good role comes along. (Side note: I think The Number 23 is one of the worst movies ever made).

 On the other hand, Jeff Daniels is at maybe his career zenith – coming off a very surprising Emmy win for his HBO show The Newsroom (I like Newsroom and he is good in it, but come on, every other person in that category – especially Cranston, Hamm, and Spacey – deserved it more).

Unlike Jim Carrey, who thrived on over-the-top comedy early on, Dumb and Dumber has always been a bit of an anomaly on Daniels’ more dramatic-leaning résumé. Though he was great and hilarious in the original, is it really necessary (or wise) for him to take another crack at it? Even if he wanted to return to comedy, wouldn’t it be better to create a whole new character instead of returning to old one?

Plus, who wouldn't have tapped Jeff Daniels as a future Emmy winner after witnessing this legendary scene:


And keep this in mind: neither Carrey nor Daniels wanted any part of a sequel 15, 10, or even 5 years ago. The studio surely wanted to make one - seeing as how the original made back its budget opening weekend on its way to a 100+ million dollar profit.

Now that is a successful movie, especially for a comedy. It was so successful, the studio thought they could make a terrible prequel with different actors and get away with it. But Carrey, Daniels, and probably the Farrelly Brothers never wanted to revisit the characters for a sequel . . . until now. And speaking of the Farrelly Brothers . . .

4 – When was the last time the sibling writer-director duo of Peter and Bobby Farrelly made a good movie?


I absolutely adore Dumb and Dumber (1994), Kingpin (1996), and There’s Something About Mary (1998). 


The Farrelly Brothers hit a home run their first three times up. But after that, there is a clear and undeniable decline of their films. Me, Myself, & Irene (2000) is decent, Shallow Hal (2001) has its moments (not many, but some), and Stuck on You (2003) was so dreadful, not even Matt Damon couldn’t even save that train wreck.


After that string of disappointments, the Farrelly’s rightfully switched gears a bit and matured their comedy stylings. Unfortunately, there has only been middling improvement in terms of quality. I must admit I have a soft spot for Fever Pitch (2005), but The Heartbreak Kid (2007) was pretty bad, and though a decent box office success, Hall Pass (2011) was largely forgettable.

I can only assume this was awful, I never saw it. Nor will I ever.
Keep in mind, these later films are completely different from their earlier, much more immature (yet more successful) work. Their last two films marked a return to the over-the-top, sophomoric comedies that made them famous, but both were abysmal failures – The Three Stooges (which no one saw) and the anthology Movie 43 (which everyone hated).

So what to make of their return to the Dumb and Dumber goldmine? In simplest terms, they are desperate. Without at least a modest hit (which, regardless of quality, Dumb and Dumber To, will likely be), it may be a long time before see a new movie from the Farrelly Brothers.

On top of that, according to IMDB, there are five listed screenwriters – Peter and Bobby Farrelly, plus Mike Cerrone (co-wrote Me, Myself, and Irene and Three Stooges), Bennett Yellin (the original D&D and Stuck on You – this maybe only a “Based on Characters By” credit), and on the positive side (I guess?), Sean Anders (Sex Drive, She’s Out of My League, Hot Tub Time Machine, and this year’s We’re the Millers).

That many screenwriters on one film is never a good sign, especially with a comedy. Too many cooks in kitchen often makes for an uneven and scattered movie. 

"Bork, bork, bork!"

5 – The generation that loved the original Dumb and Dumber has grown up. 


Sure, I’ll probably catch Dumb and Dumberer To on DVD, but I have absolutely no desire to go see it in theaters. And the youth-dominated moviegoing public probably won’t either. The original plays all the time on TV, but kids/teens today do not have that all-important nostalgic connection to it that my generation does.

I guess a frame of reference is needed here: I am 28 years old, so I was 9 years old when Dumb and Dumber came out in 1994 (arguably the best age to appreciate the movie, despite its PG-13 rating). Statistics have long shown that 18-24 year olds go to the movies far more than any other age demographic – as in, people who were younger than 5 or NOT EVEN BORN YET when Dumb and Dumber was released. Comedy movies and its stars have drastically changed over the years (just ask Jim Carrey) and I just don’t think a sequel to a two-decade old movie is exactly going to set the world on fire. 
 

And think about the things you liked two decades ago and think about the things you like now – doesn’t really match up well does it? In all likelihood, you (like me) still love Dumb and Dumber because of how it makes you feel watching it today, not because you still think it is funny. What is important is reminiscing about how it made you feel and what you thought was funny back when you first fell in love with it all those years ago.

Nostalgia can only get you so far. Will it ruin the original? Of course not, but it can never hope to live up to (or be as beloved or relevant) as the original. But who is to blame? 


The truth is: we are all to blame. It is the fans' fault for wanting it, the studio's fault for providing it, and the writers, directors, producers, and actors fault for participating in it.

Benjamin Cosman of Salon.com hits it square on the head when he says, "Comedy is best when it’s new. There is no such thing as a good old joke. And for sequels to movies made 10, 20 years ago, every joke is old. Let the classics stay classics. Don’t dig up what should stay dead. Move on to something new and fresh. Create new classics. And let the fans be happy with what they have."

We have to wait until next year to see how it shapes up (but heed my pessimistic warning). No release date has been set yet, but as it is currently filming, next summer seems likely. 


People are just getting caught up in the nostalgia. There is no way a Dumb and Dumber sequel can live up to the hype. I am warning you, don't buy into it.

1 comment:

  1. Loved dumb and dumberer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Stupid column

    ReplyDelete