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