- Eric Christian Olsen and Derek Richardson reach for the laughs.
There is a new movie out. It is called Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd. It is a prequel to the 1994 movie by Peter and Bobby Farrelly called Dumb and Dumber. In that movie, Harry was played by Jeff Daniels. Lloyd was played by Jim Carrey. Parts of it were funny, and people liked it. In this movie, we encounter Harry and Lloyd in high school, seemingly around 1987. Harry is played by Derek Richardson. Lloyd is played by Eric Christian Olsen. Parts of it are funny also -- just not very many parts. It is 82 minutes long.
The experience of viewing Dumb and Dumberer is unlikely to kill anyone. Nor should one expect to die laughing. The story here concerns 18-year-old Harry being released from home-school for the first time by his widowed mother (Mimi Rogers). He immediately crashes into Lloyd, who lives in the basement of the high school with his adopted father, the school's custodian, Ray (Luis Guzmán). Part of Lloyd's front tooth breaks off in Harry's forehead, and the two begin a friendship shaped by Lloyd's unusual philosophies involving race (he dubs an Asian girl "Ching Chong") and sex ("Girls are for fags"). Such credos notwithstanding, they both meet and fall for a pretty wannabe journo named Jessica (Rachel Nichols).
Harry and Lloyd are quickly inducted into a "special" class formed by malevolent Principal Collins (Eugene Levy, overdue for a vacation) and his squeeze, lascivious lunch lady Ms. Heller (Cheri Oteri). Essentially, the bogus class is a scam to embezzle $100,000 in grants that will fund the faculty fornicators' escape to the tropics. Jessica decides to bust them, assisted by Harry and Lloyd.
The thing that most people will want to know about Dumb and Dumberer is whether or not Richardson and Olsen are as amusing as Daniels and Carrey. The answer is no. They are not. This doesn't mean that they don't try. Richardson (of Felicity) is warmly silly à la Daniels, and Olsen (The Hot Chick) comes very close to approximating Carrey's nasty streak. Frankly, considering that these lads got stuck with the thankless task of impersonating kamikaze comic actors, they execute some of their bits with verve. For example, their grotesque, Slushee-drinking "brain-freeze" scene is laugh-out-loud funny because it's sharply, knowingly dumb. Sadly, though, the scene immediately preceding it, concerning madcap fun in a convenience store, arrives pre-eclipsed by the work of the Coen brothers (Raising Arizona) or Terry Zwigoff (Ghost World), Kevin Smith (Clerks) or Mike Judge (Beavis and Butt-head). It simply stands no chance of being fresh or funny. There are many such misfires.
Exactly as you may expect, Dumb and Dumberer is good for a few cheap little laughs. Just don't expect more. As one punk student in the film proudly proclaims, "There is nothing more American than not doing anything and getting away with it." It's precisely this lack of ambition that hamstrings what could have been a bizarrely satisfying comedy.