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Dumb and Dumber (1994)



Reviews and Comments

The Farrelly Brothers had yet to perfect their choreography of gross-out comedy with this first attempt. Later they would go on to do There's Something About Mary, which is probably as good as this genre can ever be. In Dumb and Dumber, which doubled as a star vehicle for Jim Carrey at the peak of the early part of his career, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.

I'm not a fan of bad taste, and I'm less of a fan of the way bad taste is often used in comedies. What is so often misunderstood is that it's not body functions that are funny; what's funny, as with any type of comedy, is people being themselves. There's a scene where Jeff Daniels has taken a bit of an overdose of laxative. The results are not inherently funny. Nature calling at the precise moment he has arrived at a girl's house to take her out on a first date, that's funny.

Dumb and Dumber is pretty much split right down the middle in walking that line. It was a learning experience for the Farrellys. Some of the jokes work and some fall flat. I had a tough time figuring out if I would recommend it or not. I think, by a nose, I would, if only to fans of this particular type of comedy, because the title characters are so likeable.

Odd, though, how comedy works. It's crucial that we identify with the characters in comedies and relate them to ourselves, even if we do so via differences rather than similarities. Intelligence is so often the basis of comic heroes: either they are exceptionally stupid or exceptionally smart. I generally prefer the latter, though of course there is no fast rule. I recently watched Billy Wilder's One, Two, Three, an uproarious comedy about a guy who is smarter and more resourceful than we are. The humor comes from how cleverly he can salvage even the worst of situations. Dumb and Dumber is a completely different kind of comedy: stupid heroes are popular because they make us feel good about ourselves. If these dumb lugs can make it, surely we can too.

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