Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd

There are seven levels of movie hell, seven being the worst. Level one is home to grand failures, big movies that delivered very little. Level seven is home to movies starring pop divas and American Idol finalist, like Mariah Carey’s “Glitter” and “From Justin to Kelly.”

“Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd” falls somewhere in between, a needless attempt to capitalize on the nine-year-old film that launched the career of the Farrelly brothers (Peter and Bobby). The Farrelly brothers passed on this belated prequel, as did the “South Park” team of Trey Parker and Matt Stone, obviously aware that “Dumb and Dumber” and its stars Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels said all there was to be said.

Try telling that to writer-director Troy Miller and co-writer Robert Brenner, who believe that despite the absence of the original players, audiences are still hungry for more of the antics of loveable dimwits Lloyd Christmas (Eric Christian Olsen, in for Carrey) and Harry Dunne (Derek Richardson, in for Daniels).

Miller and Brenner take us back to 1986, where Lloyd and Harry met in high school. Talk about lower education. Lloyd lives the basement of the school with his adopted father, the school custodian (Luis Guzman), while Harry has spent his formative, and I’m using that word loosely, years being home schooled by his sexy mother (Mimi Rogers).

Like magnets, the two are drawn together in their senior year, where their collective brain power equals the intelligence of a flat basketball. That makes them the perfect candidates for a new special education class, the brainchild of the school’s principal (Eugene Levy), who plans to use Lloyd and Harry to scam $100,000 from the school district.

The plot is actually a thinly disguised excuse to toss as many lowbrow and gross-out jokes into the mix, none that hit the bulls-eye, and most that miss the target altogether. Former Guess Jeans model Rachel Nichols is Jessica, the babe of the moment, a high school student reporter trying to get the goods on the principal and his lunch lady sidekick (Cheri Oteri). Jessica’s investigation brings her into Lloyd and Harry’s warped reality, leading both boys to believe that they have a shot with her.

You’ll need more than a shot to make it through “Dumb and Dumberer.” If ever a movie called for a hidden flask of distilled spirits, it’s this one. Unlike “Dumber and Dumber,” which deftly mixed heart with hilarity, the prequel shamelessly goes for the jugular, ripping out the heart and leaving us with a lifeless carcass of a movie. The jokes bomb more often than a military air strike over Bagdad, leaving the audience feeling shell shocked and numb. What was once original and funny is now repetitive and stale.

It’s easy to see why none of the original players wanted anything to do with this film, which follows the adage you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Sure, “Dumb and Dumberer” can roll over and play dead, but that’s only funny for about 12 seconds. Then what? Suffer through the same gags, served up by two young clones, forced to say and do things that even young children, who normally enjoy bodily function jokes, would find tiresome?

Olsen and Richardson are like “Patty Duke” cousins: they look alike, they talk alike, at times they even walk alike. But they are no where near as endearing as Carrey and Daniels, who took perennial losers Lloyd and Harry and actually made them endearing. The characters in “Dumb and Dumber” may have been brash and annoying, but we still cared about them. Ten minutes into the prequel all we end up caring about is whether or not we’ll get caught sneaking into the theater next door.

Carrey and Daniels were so clueless we actually believed they were “Dumb and Dumber.” Olsen and Richardson are obviously acting dumb, and it’s their lack of conviction that sets the tone for the entire film. Even the usually reliable Eugene Levy is reduced to playing a caricature rather than a character. You know your lowbrow comedy is in trouble when Levy can’t save it.

The real culprits are Miller and Brenner, who present every joke and gag so matter-of-fact that the actors are helpless to do anything but grin and bare it. In comedy timing is everything, and the timing is all wrong here. Jokes fall flat because Miller never gives them or the characters room to breathe. How can you care about a character when they’ve been reduced to a sound bite or even worse, the butt of a joke.


Belated prequel is too little too late


Eric Christian Olsen, Derek Richardson, Rachel Nichols, Eugene Levy, Cheri Oteri, Luis Guzman, Mimi Rogers. Directed by Troy Miller. Rated PG-13. 83 Minutes.


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