Watch the Dumb and Dumber To trailer below.
Well, Universal (a division of Comcast Corporation) just debuted the first trailer from Dumber and Dumber To on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. So thanks to JoBlo for the YouTube embed. Nearly twenty years after Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels introduced most of the world to the Farrelly Bros. via the first Dumb and Dumber, we are indeed getting a sequel. And not only are the Farrelly Bros. returning to the directors’ chairs, but both Daniels and Carrey are returning to reprise their roles as Harry Dunne and Lloyd Christmas respectively. Dumb and Dumber was released over Christmas weekend in 1994 to relatively mixed reviews. But today it is considered a kind of comedy classic that seemingly deserves a twenty-year reunion shot. It is just another symptom of what basically amounts to what I’d argue is generational nostalgia.
Putting aside the discussion of how weirdly not-funny the above trailer is, the question becomes, to the extent that it matters, is Dumb and Dumber really some kind of antique comedy classic, or does the current generation of film nerds see it through the rose-colored glasses of nostalgia because they saw it as children? I’m on the record at not being thrilled with the notion of a Dumber and Dumber sequel, mostly because of what it represents to the careers of Jim Carrey and (to a lesser extent since he was never a pure movie star) Jeff Daniels that they might find themselves open to reprising said characters twenty years later. Same goes for the Farrelly Brothers, who have struggled to find a comic foothold over the last fifteen years (post-There’s Something about Mary) as the Apatow-type comedy stylings took over in the late 2000′s. And frankly, the trailer doesn’t exactly sell the necessity of said reunion in a comic sense.
On the other hand, if we argue that Bruce Almighty was about Jim Carrey coming to terms with the idea that being an expert funnyman was just as important as being a respected dramatic actor (and I absolutely think that’s what said movie is about in a sub-textual sense), this all may just be giving the would-be fans what they allegedly want purely out of a desire to entertain. And considering how surprisingly good Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues turned out, I’m willing to be a little more optimistic for what seems to be a rather unnecessary franchise revival. I don’t think Dumb and Dumber To is necessary, and I would argue that it wouldn’t be happening if Carrey and the writer/directors were in a better place career-wise (say, if the surprisingly good Fever Pitch caught on), but there’s also no law saying I have to be a grouchy old man about it.
Carrey has flourished as a supporting player last year, even if he was often the best thing about otherwise bad films like The Incredible Burt Wonderstone or Kick-Ass 2, He also gave a career-peak performance in I Love You Philip Morris back in 2009. If the surefire box office success of a Dumber and Dumber sequel allows him a bit more artistic freedom for whatever comes next, it may well be worth it. That the trailer is premiering on The Tonight Show is of course another example of the old-school marketing that still dominates. Say what you will about Google Hangouts or online premieres, but the best way to reach a large general audience is through the likes of The Tonight Show or Ellen.
I don’t have a clue what the budget for the sequel is, but I’m presuming that Carrey didn’t get $20 million this time around. In a year when Universal has eschewed the conventional tent pole, Dumb and Dumber To is easily their most surefire hit. I think the obsessive need to revamp, reboot, and/or restart decades-old franchises is a pretty terrible one. It’s born both out of fear of the unknown in terms of marketing non-preestablished properties as well as I would argue a sense of culturally superiority in terms of who is running the show right now. The cultural arbitrators are the ones who grew up in the 1980′s and 1990′s, so it stands to reason that they see said properties with a nostalgia-tinged glow that also leads them to think that the genre films of their childhood are inherently superior to anything that might drop today.
Thus 20 years later, we talk about the perfectly amusing Dumb and Dumber as if it was an iconic cinematic classic worthy of revisiting. But that doesn’t mean I have to be a grump about it. For those clamoring for another Dumb and Dumber, here you go. I hope it’s worth it, one way or another. If it turns out to be a comic gem, I’ll be the first to shout to the hills proclaiming as much. Dumb and Dumber To debuts November 14th, 2014. As always, we’ll see.