DUMB AND DUMBER - Blu-ray review

...it tickles the funny bone often enough to merit serious consideration among lowbrow comedies.

John J. Puccio's picture
John J.
Puccio

Lloyd: "I'll bet you twenty dollars I get you gambling before the day is out."
Harry: "You're on!"
Lloyd: "I don't how, but I'm going get you."

Note: In the following joint Blu-ray review, both John and Erik provide their opinions of the film, with John also writing up the Video, Audio, Extras, and Parting Thoughts.

The Film According to John:
This is one of those films I resisted for quite a while. When "Dumb and Dumber" (that's the disc's keep-case title; the movie's title screen actually calls it "Dumb & Dumber") first appeared on the scene in 1994, I had no interest in seeing it. The trailers I saw looked stupid and stupider. In fact, when it first showed up on cable, I avoided it as well. But since cable showings can be relentless (at one point the movie seemed to be playing nightly for months on end), I gave in only a few years ago, and to my surprise found it not half bad. Yes, it's just as stupid as I anticipated, but it's sort of an endearing stupidity.

The thought that went through my head when I first watched it was how much the two main characters reminded me of the old Three Stooges. Stars Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels even wear their hair cut to resemble Moe Howard and Larry Fine respectively. Since Moe and Larry were the only continuing Stooges to perform together in all their stage and screen appearances (the third Stooge replaced by a succession of different comic actors), it seems appropriate to have only two such characters in "Dumb and Dumber." My initial reaction couldn't have been far wrong, either, because I see that the writers and directors of "Dumb and Dumber," Peter and Bobby Farrelly, plan to do a film before long called, not surprisingly, "The Three Stooges." Makes sense.

Anyway, "Dumb and Dumber" was the very first of the Farrelly's movie comedies, most of them, like "Kingpin," "There's Something About Mary," "Shallow Hal," "Osmosis Jones," "Fever Pitch," and "The Heartbreak Kid," just as silly as this one. Like "There's Something About Mary," their best film, "Dumb and Dumber" is little more than a series of comedy skits tied loosely--very loosely--together by the thinnest of plots. Indeed, it is when the filmmakers have added an actual story line to their films that they've gotten into trouble. I could barely get through "The Heartbreak Kid." While "Dumb and Dumber" is not as good as "There's Something About Mary," it does have its amusing moments, thanks largely to the zany antics of Carrey and Daniels and to some very humorous dialogue.

Carrey plays Lloyd Christmas, as the movie opens a driver for a limousine service, and Daniels plays Harry Dunne, a dog groomer. Neither is smart enough to hold a job for long, so the work is temporary. For Carrey, the role was a natural; he'd been playing absurd characters in movies like "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective" and television for years. For Daniels, it must have been harder. Before "Dumb and Dumber," Daniels had been doing straight dramatic roles ("Sweet Hearts Dance," "The Butcher's Wife," "Timescape," "Speed"), and for him doing comedy this far out, this silly, was surely a stretch. But he carries it off. His character is not as dumb as Carrey's, making him, I suppose, the "Dumb" in the title, but he's not too far removed from the Carrey mark. Dumb is dumb, after all.

I mentioned that this film has a loosely knit plot. In it, Lloyd finds that a beautiful girl (Lauren Holly) has left her briefcase at the airport and, having fallen in love with her during their limo ride together, determines to return it to her, even though he's on the East Coast and the girl's plane has already left for Aspen, Colorado. Lloyd persuades Harry to drive the two of them across country in Harry's dog-groomer van, and then Lloyd can present the case to the girl, she will fall in love with him, and they will live happily ever after. Little do Lloyd and Harry know that the case contains a fortune in ransom money and that the thugs sent to pick it up are now after them.

Among the best supporting characters in the film, and among the funniest, is one of the two thugs following them, Joe "Mental" Mentaliano, played brilliantly by big Mike Starr. If you don't recognize Starr's name, you'll recognize his face; he's been in countless movies, like "Goodfellas," "Lean on Me," "Miller's Crossing," "The Bodyguard," "Mad Dog and Glory," "Hoodlum," "Snake Eyes," and "The Black Dahlia," usually playing a tough guy or a heavy. Here, we come to feel sorry for his hit-man character because he has to take so much abuse from the clueless Lloyd and Harry. A scene where Mental is sitting between them in the van, with the dummies singing and pestering him ("Wanna hear the most annoying sound in the world?") is one of the highlights of the film.

Still, it isn't so much the characters' harebrained behavior that's funny as it is their lines:

"How was your day?"
"Not bad. Fell off a jet way again."

"If I know Mary as well as I think I do, she'll invite us right in for tea and strumpets."

When Mental discovers that Lloyd and Harry have taken off with the ransom money, he tears the head off Harry's pet parakeet. When Harry tells Lloyd his parakeet is dead, Lloyd consoles him:
"Oh, I'm sorry. What happened?"
"His head fell off."
"His head fell off?"
"Yeah, he was pretty old."

When Lloyd decides to go to Aspen, he remarks it's "where beautiful women instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano."

In the middle of Nebraska, after driving for half a day in the wrong direction: "I expected the Rocky Mountains to be a little rockier than this." "That John Denver's full of shit, man!"

"We're in a hole. We're just going to have to dig ourselves out."

"According to the map, we've only gone four inches."

"Hey, look, the Monkees. They were a huge influence on the Beatles."

And, as in every Farrelly brothers' film, there are parts for disabled persons. In this case, Lloyd sells Harry's dead parakeet to a blind kid. "Dumb and Dumber" is about as lowbrow as you can get, with at least half or more of the gags groaners, yet it all adds up to more than the sum of its parts. You come away from the film smiling and thinking it wasn't the complete waste of time you figured on.

"You sold my dead bird to a blind kid?"

John's film rating: 6/10

The Film According to Erik:
The Farrelly brothers have made a name for themselves creating comedy out of some of the most over-the-top, absurdly amusing antics of people who don't normally get the limelight. These include stalkers, idiots, the handicapped, the obese, and even Siamese twins. For the directing team, the more "out there" the better. "Dumb and Dumber" put them on the comedy map, and while the movie isn't a work of genius, it remains one of their best and a very funny film. There's just something about the sheer zaniness of the film that works as plain dumb fun.

The story follows the exploits of Harry (Jeff Daniels) and Lloyd (Jim Carrey), who work as a dog-groomer and limo driver, respectively. One particular day, a beautiful redhead named Mary (Lauren Holly) leaves a briefcase full of money in the backseat of Lloyd's limo. Being that Lloyd is completely smitten with Mary, he takes it upon himself and his fellow moronic chum to find Mary and return the case to her. Little do the ditzy duo realize that the case is full of ransom money Mary was leaving behind for a pair thugs, who work for the man who has kidnapped Mary's husband. Still, nothing can stop Harry and Lloyd from hopping in Harry's dog-costumed car and trekking cross country to Aspen to return the case.

Along the way the pair encounter a myriad of obstacles that might keep them from their goal. One of the most entertaining of these segments is their encounter with a trucker named Sea Bass (Cam Neely), who terrorizes them at a diner stop. The thugs (played by Mike Starr and Karen Duffy) also provide an amusing set of obstacles as they mistake Harry and Lloyd for a couple of genius assassins hired by Mary's family to send the kidnappers a message. Not even traveling the final leg of their journey aboard a kid-sized scooter prevents them from returning the money to Mary. After all, she is the love of Lloyd's life.

The film belongs to Carrey and Daniels the whole way. Together they present a sort of manic hilarity that, while at times feeling overwhelming, is a great comedic pairing. The Carrey we have here is the one well before he turned to drama. Here he displays a zany, physical presence that he was most known for (this was the guy who excelled at talking out of his butt). Daniels also has many moments that work as an excellent foil for Carey's antics. Daniels' Harry is much more subdued than Lloyd, and Daniels gives him an underlying sense of sincerity that would be otherwise squashed, and he holds his own against Carrey with the broad comedy.

"Dumb and Dumber: Unrated" adds a few more minutes of running time that expands on some of the preexisting scenes already in the movie. These scenes include the sequence where Harry and Lloyd are at the gas station, and Harry first flirts with the undercover agent. One of the other additions is to Harry's now infamous diarrhea scene (which makes the scene all that much more gross and offensive). None of this really adds or takes a way from the film in any real way but gives the viewer an additional laugh here and another groan there.

The Farrelly's have always been known for humor that borders on the grotesque. Plainly, the laughs are over the top, and this is what they excel at. With this in mind, the comedy is all sophomoric toilet humor, which shines in this film. "Dumb and Dumber" plants the seeds of what was to come for the brothers and their comedic stylings. Later films, like "Shallow Hal," "Stuck On You," and "There's Something About Mary" would push the limits of what they could pull off and call funny. They started their career on a high note and with the exception of "There's Something About Mary" it's disappointing that they haven't been able to retain such a high level hilarity in their subsequent movies. To say the least, "Dumb and Dumber" remains one of their best.

Erik's film rating: 7/10

Video:
Warner/New Line use a single-layer BD25 and a VC-1 video codec to good advantage in transferring the 1.85:1 ratio picture to disc. My only cavil is that the image is somewhat soft; otherwise, colors stand out brightly and vividly, black levels remain deep, and the screen is relatively clear of age or processing artifacts.

Audio:
The audio engineers provide the English soundtrack with the choices of Dolby TrueHD 5.1 or Dolby Digital 5.1, neither of which does a whole lot for the rear channels. However, the TrueHD does tend to open up the stereo spread somewhat and strengthen the dynamics and bass. The tiniest bit of musical ambience does seep into the surrounds from time to time, so thank goodness for small favors.

Extras:
Probably the main bonus on this "Unrated: More Dumber Than Evur!" edition is the additional footage not seen in theaters, about six minutes' worth, which Erik discussed earlier. Beyond that, the extras include an eighteen-minute retrospective featurette, "Still Dumb After All These Years," made in 2005. In it, the Farrelly brothers, the film's producers, Jeff Daniels, and others discuss the making of the film and how well the chemistry worked between Carrey and Daniels. Carrey is about the only one of the film's participants who goes missing from the extras.

Next, we find a pair of fake trailers for the movie, one promoting it as a romance, the other as a crime thriller; then a real trailer for the film, and a television spot. After those items we get twelve deleted or expanded scenes, including two alternate endings, that total about thirty-four minutes. They feature intermittent commentary from Daniels and other actors and filmmakers. The final major bonus item is a series of four multi-take scenes called "Dumb Moments" and include "Big Fire," "Kung Fu Chef," "Most Annoying Sound," and "The Toilet Scene," again with Daniels' comments.

The extras conclude with twenty-four scene selections; pop-up menus; and English and German spoken languages and captions for the hearing impaired.

Parting Thoughts:
Maybe I'm just imagining it, but "Dumb and Dumber" seems to have picked up a bigger audience than ever since its initial release, with its fan base increasing by the year. Critics were unkind to it in the beginning, but even they are starting to ease up. Despite the movie's relentless potty jokes and gross humor, there are some genuinely amusing moments in it and probably more good laugh lines than half a dozen other comic films. Although I still wouldn't call "Dumb and Dumber" a genre classic, it tickles the funny bone often enough to merit serious consideration among lowbrow comedies.

"You'll have to excuse my friend; he's a little slow. The turn is back that way."

Ratings

Video
8
Audio
7
Extras
6
Film Value
6