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Dumb and Dumber To

Imagine for a moment that 2003’s disastrous “Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd” never happened and that 1994’s hilarious “Dumb and Dumber” was left untainted as a comedy classic. Having laid dormant for 20 years, would a resurrection of those characters in a not-particularly-asked-for sequel work? The humorously titled “Dumb and Dumber To” is here to answer that question and, sadly, it’s a mixed bag. If the original film can be considered a classic while the ill-advised prequel exemplifies bottom-of-the-barrel comedy, then “Dumb and Dumber To” rests squarely in between.

The catalyst that gets our dimwitted duo out on the road again involves a discovery that Harry (Jeff Daniels), against all odds, has a grown daughter. It turns out that an evening he spent with the beautiful Fraida, who has since grown into an old bag played by Kathleen Turner, produced a baby. So he, along with Lloyd (Jim Carrey), who has spent the last 20 years in a psychiatric hospital just so he could play a joke on Harry, sets out to meet her at an upcoming convention where she will be speaking. Along with them is Travis (Rob Riggle) and a box of unimaginable worth, the contents of which could change the world forever. However, Travis has an ulterior motive, and only dumb luck is going to protect Harry and Lloyd and get them where they need to go.

Which is, of course, the entire conceit of the movie. As with the first film, the duo is oblivious to what is actually going on around them as they stumble into different scenarios that play out in ways that could only be dreamed up in a Hollywood screenplay. Luckily, those scenarios are relatively entertaining, even if they include some unnecessary shoehorning in of characters and props from the first movie. You’ll remember the “pretty bird” blind kid, the Mutt Cutts van and more, though they appear for mere minutes, if that, before disappearing into oblivion. While these moments serve as welcome fanfare for those that remember watching the original 20 years ago, they nevertheless do little to enhance the overall movie.

Many jokes from the first film are repeated as well, but there’s plenty of new content here to make up for it. Aside from a handful of set-ups that pay off later in the film, gags come fast and furious and both Carrey and Daniels, who are now in their 50s, are game to pull them off. Neither of them have missed a beat in the gap between movies, particularly Carrey, who is just as absurd as you remember him. “Dumb and Dumber To” often falls back on slapstick, which I consider to be the lowest form of humor, but if there’s anyone that can pull it off, it’s Jim Carrey and Daniels perfectly complements him. Even at the film’s worst, they’re fascinating to watch together.

What else can really be said about this movie? Sometimes it’s funny, other times it’s not, but it knows what it’s doing. These are dumb characters in dumb situations doing dumb things and making dumb jokes, which is the entire point. “Dumb and Dumber To” doesn’t advertise itself as anything else and delivers exactly what people going to see it will want. If you’re one of those people and can set the proper expectations, there’s no doubt enjoyment will be had. This is no classic, but “Dumb and Dumber To” is good for some cheap laughs.

Dumb and Dumber To receives 3/5


The Three Stooges

As time goes on, things change. Fashion, social norms, political topics, religious thoughts and even senses of humor are all affected by time. Things that were interesting 20 or 30 years ago look strange and archaic today (look no further than the style of the 80’s for proof of that). The Three Stooges is a good example of something that hasn’t aged well. Watching the classic skits the trio was known for today is interesting only for their pop culture history value; the skits themselves don’t hold up well and most certainly aren’t funny. But that isn’t stopping the Farrelly brothers from resurrecting them with a brand new feature length film, simply titled The Three Stooges, and it’s as awful as can be.

The movie follows Moe (Chris Diamantopoulous), Larry (Sean Hayes) and Curly (Will Sasso) as they attempt to save their childhood orphanage from bankruptcy. Along the way, they find themselves stuck in the thick of a murder plot and even starring opposite the cast on Jersey Shore. It’s a loose plot if there ever was one, given that the physically abusive humor the Stooges are known for can happen anywhere. They could be on a farm, in the middle of a big city or on the moon and it would hardly make a difference. Slapstick humor by its very nature is random and unnecessary, rarely generating from the necessity of the story at hand. Therefore, the story is inconsequential, the orphanage a meaningless plot device to throw the trio out into the world to act like idiots.

One could make the argument that the Three Stooges pushed the envelope in their heyday. They were harming each other well before Looney Tunes popularized it among children. In a time when little was tolerated in the media, the Three Stooges were making violence funny (or at least trying). However, we’ve progressed since then. Critics constantly criticize a film that relies almost exclusively on slapstick humor, and for good reason—it’s the lowest form of comedy and requires no creative talent—yet slapstick humor is all the Three Stooges are known for. They have little to offer in the way of depth or innovation and their brand of comedy is simply not funny by today’s standards, rendering them irrelevant.

But their general unpleasantness goes further than just bad comedy. We’re in a time when children can’t even go to school without being bullied, including by those they call their friends, highlighted well in this week’s succinctly titled documentary, Bully, yet bullying is all the Stooges do. The slightest thing happens and the Stooges, particularly Moe, become angry and begin to attack those around them. The film may be rated PG and targeted at kids, but I’m not too sure this movie is appropriate for them, partly because many of them imitate what they see. Aside from the expected eye poking and face slapping, you’ll see the Stooges take a chainsaw to Curly’s head, crush others under heavy objects, shove someone’s head into a microwave and turn it on and even attempt to murder someone by pushing a man in front of a moving truck. Later, when they find out their attempted murder failed, they venture to the hospital to smother their victim with a pillow and finish the job. This behavior is, for lack of a better word, unacceptable and unsuitable for the growing minds of children. A post-film PSA about the illusion of film from two good looking men claiming to be the Farrelly brothers does nothing to negate its harmful and mean-spirited nature.

The Three Stooges have no place in today’s world. This update includes modern day references to things like Facebook and iPhones, but it doesn’t change the fact that its humor is cruel and stuck in the past. There’s maybe one clever joke in the entire film and it’s a spoken line, not an image of someone getting poked in the eye or hit in the groin or punched in the face, and it’s not nearly enough. With inflation occurring alongside a weakening dollar and an economy that is forcing many to struggle to get by, we should demand more for our money than what this abysmal movie has to offer.

The Three Stooges receives 0.5/5


Hall Pass

I bet there are plenty of guys that would love to get a week off from marriage and have the freedom to do whatever (and whomever) they want. But if it were to happen, most men wouldn’t know what to do with themselves. They may attempt to pick up girls, probably to no avail. Some may even realize they’re happier without their wives holding them down. Most men, however, would most likely miss their wives and wish to be back together with them. One thing’s for sure—whatever they did would have little similarities to the events in Hall Pass. The latest comedy from the Farrelly Brothers takes this premise and runs with it, slowly becoming more and more ridiculous as it goes on, presenting a tonally uneven film that manages to string out only a small number of good laughs.

Rick (Owen Wilson) and Fred (Jason Sudeikis) are two middle aged men who have been married for many years to their wives, Maggie (Jenna Fischer) and Grace (Christina Applegate), respectively. After years of ogling other women, however, Maggie and Grace become fed up and give the guys a “hall pass,” a week off from marriage to do whatever they want. So they leave for the week, hoping this time away will make them appreciate what they have. What they don’t expect, however, is for the guys to take the opportunity to try and hook up with other women, but that’s exactly what they’re going to do.

Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis are perfectly cast in Hall Pass. They look the part (not ugly, but not particularly attractive either), they dress the part (walking around with their shirts tucked in and a simple parted hairdo) and they have a middle aged verbal swagger. They boast to each other that if it weren’t for their wives, they could be sleeping with every girl they run into. Their egos make them think they’re God’s gift to women. The problem is that while they talk a big game, they lack the actual skills to back that talk up.

And when they finally get that coveted hall pass from their wives, it shows. They stumble through their words as they talk to women, they use cheesy pick up lines that any respectable lady would scoff at and their ideal hook up spot is Applebee’s. Needless to say, all of their initial attempts to pick up somebody fail. But they remain optimistic nonetheless. They just know they'll get someone tomorrow. In these early moments, Hall Pass deftly explores the male mentality, which is full of macho talk and a certain cockiness that leads them to believe that, if given the chance, any girl would fall for them and be willing to hop in the sack.

Unfortunately, these hints at intelligent deliberation become overshadowed by a raunchy screenplay full of male nudity and bodily secretions. However, its over-the-topness in itself is not the problem. It’s the mixture of that outrageousness with the quiet events prior. The first 30 minutes are like a PG-13 movie, with little swearing or overt sexuality, which makes its sudden explosion into childishness seem all the more abrupt. Even worse, the last few minutes are full of cutesy speeches and redemptive confessions. Some loose ends are even purposely skipped over.

It’s possible to effectively combine heart with bawdiness, but the two elements need to be mixed together, not simply placed end to end. Transitions from the simple beginning to the crude middle and finally to the gooey ending come off as awkward and do not work. There are a handful of laughs to be had in Hall Pass, but not nearly enough and the clumsy emotional construction of the narrative is difficult to look past.

Hall Pass receives 2/5