What Lisa Watched Last Night #56: Dumb and Dumber (dir by Peter and Bobby Farrelly)


Last night, I turned on Comedy Central and I watched the 1994 comedy Dumb and Dumber.

Why Was I Watching It?

Last night was my first time to ever sit down and watch Dumb and Dumber from beginning to end.  I had seen several clips on YouTube and I had been assured by many people that Dumb and Dumber was one of the funniest movies ever made.  Last night, since SyFy was not showing an original movie, I decided to find out for myself.

What Was It About?

Harry (played by Jeff Daniels) is dumb and Lloyd (Jim Carrey) is dumber.  Harry has messy hair and Lloyd has a chipped tooth.  They end up getting kicked out of their depressing apartment and this somehow leads to them going on a road trip from Rhode Island to Colorado.  They’re looking for Lloyd’s dream girl, Mary (Lauren Holly).  Along the way, they’re pursued by a gangsters and engage in a lot of disgusting adventures.  It’s a dumb movie about dumb people doing dumb things.

What Worked?

I laughed once while watching the film.  It was a weary laugh that was largely the result of being slowly worn down by the film’s insistence that what I was watching was actually funny.  It wasn’t a sincere laugh.  It was a laugh of surrender but it was a laugh nonetheless.

Jeff Daniels is currently best known for playing Will McAvoy, the smug and condescending center of HBO’s The Newsroom.  That show’s pilot famously started off with McAvoy declaring that the millenials are the “WORST.  GENERATION.  EVER.”  As a member of the WORST.  GENERATION.  EVER, I have to say that there was something oddly satisfying about seeing Jeff Daniels getting continually humiliated (and, at one point, set on fire) in Dumb and Dumber.

What Did Not Work?

Just to judge by the reaction on twitter while Dumb and Dumber was playing, a lot of people are going to disagree with me on this but Dumb and Dumber sucks.  Seriously.  The film’s constant gross-out humor felt more lazy than clever and watching it quickly became as tedious as watching a commercial featuring a celebrity talking to their iPhone.  As I watched Dumb and Dumber, I found myself constantly checking the time and wondering, “Is the film ever going to actually get funny?”

One of the keys to succesful film comedy is that you have to believe that the characters have an actual stake in the film’s plot, regardless of how ludicrous or over-the-top the plot may get.  That stake is the difference between silly and funny.  With Jeff Daniels looking extremely uncomfortable and Jim Carrey apparently acting in a separate movie from everyone else, Dumb and Dumber is silly without ever really being funny.

Maybe it was easier to make people laugh in 1994.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

For once, I’m glad to say that a movie featured absolutely no “Oh my God!  Just like me!” moments.

Actually, I take that back.  Both me and Lauren Holly have the same hair color.  So, that was just like me.

But that is it!

Lessons Learned

Comedy, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

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6 responses to “What Lisa Watched Last Night #56: Dumb and Dumber (dir by Peter and Bobby Farrelly)

  1. A member of the subgenre “torture comedy”, as it is torturous to view and situations are waterboarded repeatedly for any traces of actual funny stuff: so, torture comedy

    • In that case, Jimmy Fallon must be the king of torture comedy. However, there are quite a few Australian “comics” who could give him a run for his money. The Land of Oz has so many awfully unfunny would-be funny people, the whole continent is in danger of becoming a comedic Guantanamo Bay.

  2. I remember enjoying this film growing up. I haven’t seen it in ages though, so perhaps it hasn’t aged well. Watching Jim Carrey’s earlier schtick on “In Living Color” didn’t impress me so much last time I watched the box set, so there you go. It’s not that it was easier to make a comedy in ’94, but that it has ALWAYS been easy to impress 14 year-olds.

  3. I’ve never seen this film.

    But this film somehow managed to become the seventh highest grossing film of its year.

    Films that people could have seen at the cinemas back in 1994 (none of which finished in the top 10 highest grossing list):

    “The Crow”

    “Crumb”

    “Ed Wood”

    “Fresh”

    “Natural Born Killers”

    “Nell” (okay, I’m kidding with that one)

    “The Professional”

    “Quiz Show”

    “The Shawshank Redemption”

    It wasn’t just 14 year olds who were flocking to see “Dumb and Dumber”. The above list has some great titles, and if anybody dares to bug their eyes at me for STILL not having seen “Dumb and Dumber” (as if it’s one of the most important films ever made), I’ll hit them with some titles from the above list. I didn’t go to the movies all that much back in 1994, but during the past several years, I’ve managed to watch several of the above titles at revival screenings. 1994 had some really great films, so you have to wonder what the hell is going on that “Dumb and Dumber” is still so celebrated.

  4. I used to love this film, but then I spent my post-high school years on Jim Carrey shtick. I don’t think you’re wrong in wondering why people love this film. I think some still genuinely love it still while most may just be looking at it with a nostalgic fondness tat ties back to their younger years.

    Dumb & Dumber is plain slapstick comedy but with a rougher edge to it that comedies during the early 1990’s definitely lacked. I mean it’s the Three Stooges minus Curly/Shemp/Curly Joe for the post-Gen-X crowd who never had the experience of seeing Eddie Murphy, Richard Pryor and others comedians of the 70’s and 80’s do both raunchy comedy on top of socially aware stage acts.

    I don’t love the film as much now but I still laugh at some of the more crude and raunchy sequences. The film as a whole doesnt hold up for a full feature-length. I will say that seeing their dog van appear on the screen each and every time I see this film still brings a big, stupid grin on my face.

  5. I too laughed only once during this movie, and I was laughing with the movie, not at the movie. The scene where Jeff Daniels is on the toilet I snickered while thinking. “This movie made a ton of money, and I’m sure most of those that enjoyed it consider this to the best scene. Wow.”

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