Sometimes stories demand a follow-up. Other times fans clamor for more material from familiar characters. And in these instances, sequels are destined to be.

Dumb and Dumber To

Rave and Quality 16
Universal Pictures

“Dumb and Dumber To” is not one of those instances.

Twenty years after the original moronic adventure, Harry (Jeff Daniels, “Looper”) and Lloyd (Jim Carrey, “The Mask”) have returned. In this follow-up effort, Harry and Lloyd find themselves on another cross-country voyage in search of Harry’s long-lost daughter (Lloyd’s true motivation being sexual attraction to his friend’s daughter), who the pair hope can provide a kidney for Harry, who’s in need of a transplant. Along the way the duo of dunces come into possession of an invention that could save humanity, placing them on the hit-list of a trio of murderous villains.

If the setup sounds familiar, it might be because you just watched the first “Dumb and Dumber.” Beyond that, “To” relies on a constant stream of callbacks to its predecessor, referencing or just repeating most of the original’s notable jokes. The puppy car makes a brief appearance, the audience re-acquaints with Harry and Lloyd’s blind disabled neighbor and Lloyd introduces the second-most annoying noise in the world.

Despite the warmed over jokes, practically every punchline boils down to Harry and Lloyd being dumb. While this doesn’t automatically derail the film, it does place a challenge on the writers and performers to use this simple gag in creative ways — a challenge they do not live up to.

Instead, “Dumb and Dumber To” relies too heavily on fart/poop jokes and unnecessarily sexualizes women at every turn. Of the three notable female characters, one is a self-proclaimed “titanic whore,” another has a foot fetish and the third is the object of Lloyd’s creepy affection. At another point, Lloyd yells at a female on stage to “show us your tits,” and while the ignorance is clearly meant to be the butt of the joke, offensive material as the entirety of a joke has long been played out.

Especially interesting is to see Jeff Daniels regress into the role of Harry, considering his recognition for “The Newsroom,” an HBO program in which Daniels regularly delivers piercingly intelligent monologues. For an actor that prides himself on a wide range of genres, the timing of the release of “Dumb and Dumber To” couldn’t be more appropriate, sandwiched between the first two episodes of the highbrow drama’s final season. Jim Carrey on the other hand, while having proven himself a capable dramatic actor, seems much more at home delivering another of his signature slapstick, exaggerated performances.

The truth is that you already know if you’d like this movie; it’s exactly what you expect it to be. If the Farrelly brothers’ humor is up your alley, then enjoy. For all the film’s shortcomings, it does seem to connect with its audience, filling the theater with laughter throughout. Why exactly people find it so funny remains a mystery.

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