I’m going to be honest, of ‘The Jim Carrey 3’, ‘Dumb and Dumber’ is not my favourite. I don’t think it’s bad, it’s just that of the three, I’ve only seen ‘Dumb and Dumber’ twice and having only watched it again recently (yesterday), I didn’t laugh as much as I did with ‘Ace Ventura: Pet Detective’ or ‘The Mask’.
I think it’s because Carrey’s character of Lloyd Christmas is not as wacky or eccentric as Ace or Stanley Ipkiss. He’s still funny, just not in the same way.
Nevertheless, ‘Dumb and Dumber’ is still a good film. It’s a comedy classic. When watching it, I got the feeling that a lot of todays comedies are based on it. I recognise this format. The road trip, the series of comedic set pieces, the absurd characters, it’s all there.
The plot is a good place to start.
Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey) and his best friend, Harry Dunne (Jeff Daniels) are living in a run-down apartment in Providence. They want to save up their money to buy a pet store together but they keep getting fired from their jobs because they’re well… dumb. Before he’s fired from his limo driving job, Lloyd meets a beautiful lady, Mary Swanson (Lauren Holly) who leaves a briefcase inside an airport terminal. Lloyd collects the briefcase and vows to travel to Mary’s destination, Aspen, Colorado to deliver the briefcase and hopefully make her fall in love with him. Harry agrees to drive him to Aspen but the two are blissfully unaware that the briefcase that Lloyd collected in filled with money that was purposefully left by Mary to be collected by two henchmen, Joe Mentalino (Mike Starr) and J.P. Shay (Karen Duffy) to give to their boss, Nicholas Andre (Charles Rocket) who has kidnapped Mary’s husband, Bobby (Brad Lockerman).
Naturally, because the film is called ‘Dumb and Dumber’, the film centres on the two main characters, Lloyd and Harry. They’re both generally dim-witted but (I made this point in my ‘Idiocracy’ review) that there has to be a certain level of stupid that is acceptable where they can survive. Granted, the people in ‘Idiocracy’ were meant to be apocalyptically stupid and the world around them was catered to their stupidity but Lloyd and Harry aren’t that stupid. I think they just lack common sense.
There’s a sequence early on in the film where Lloyd is spending the last of their cash on the ‘bare essentials’ which turns out to be two crates of ‘Coors Light’ and he stops at one of those newspaper cabinets that are only in America and we don’t have in England so I don’t know what they’re called. Instead of newpapers in this cabinet, it’s a porn mag. Lloyd puts a quarter in the machine, lifts the lid, takes a magazine but accidentally leaves his wallet inside the cabinet. With no more change, Lloyd asks an old lady to watch his stuff while he does into a store to break a dollar bill. The next shot is an upset Lloyd returning home having been robbed by the old lady.
Granted, he could have put the crates down, then he would have had both hands free to get the magazine but how was he supposed to know that the old lady would rob him? It’s a reasonable assumption that a nice, old lady would help Lloyd. Now, if the old lady was instead a huge, biker dude and Lloyd assumed that he would guard his stuff then that would be pretty stupid.
I’ve mentioned this in ‘The Mask’ review that Jim Carrey was initially offered $700,000 to star in ‘Dumb and Dumber’ but his offer was negotiated in the same week that ‘Ace Ventura: Pet Detective’ opened at #1 and Jim Carrey became the hottest thing in comedy. Soon, his salary had been upped to $7 Million.
Since the character of Lloyd is played by Jim Carrey and we as the audience knew that he would be wacky and so I think it was a good idea to have a more serious actor to play Harry. Not that Jim Carrey isn’t capable of being serious. ‘The Number 23’ was a good movie. It’s just that Jim Carrey is a stand-up comedian and there is a difference between being a stand-up comedian and being an actor who appears in comedy films. Typically, stand-up comedians become comedy actors because comedy is their thing but there are comedy actors that aren’t stand-up. For example, Steve Carell is a comedy actor and not a stand-up comedian. Jeff Daniels falls into this category. Of the 65 film credits to his name, 32 are classed as comedies meanwhile, of Jim Carrey’s 50 film credits, 35 are classed as comedies. See what I mean? My point is that casting an actor to play Harry who was on the same energy level as Jim Carrey would have made the whole thing a little but too wacky and they would just have been competing with each other. Whereas, Jeff Daniels was the perfect person to cast as he grounded Carrey’s performance a bit more and created a good chemistry and good contrast between the two performances.
However, according to various sources, Jeff Daniels wasn’t wanted by New Line to be in the film despite the writers (The Farrelly Brothers) and Jim Carrey wanting him and so Daniels was offered a low salary of $50,000 to be in the film. Against the advice of his agent, Daniels accepted the offer and starred in ‘Dumb and Dumber’, taking the risk that this film could damage his career which mostly consisted of dramatic roles.
The whole point of the story is that Lloyd naively believes that he can return Mary’s briefcase and begin a relationship and doesn’t know that she’s married. Nicholas Andre is a friend of the family that has kidnapped Mary’s husband, the reason of which either wasn’t mentioned or I can’t remember. Lloyd and Harry accidentally discover that the briefcase that started it all is filled with money and so they decide to spend the money on ‘essentials’ which in their minds of course means a $250,000 Lamborghini and extravagant clothes.
Lloyd goes to meet Mary at a Gala but is too nervous and so asks Harry to talk to her for him. Harry and Mary hit it off so sets Lloyd up on a fake date with Mary so he can really go out with Mary. Of course, Lloyd finds out and this sets the friends at odds.
In the end, Nicholas arrives for his money but finds that the briefcase has been emptied of most of the cash and filled with ‘IOU’s’ by Lloyd and Harry. Nicholas then shoots Harry but it’s all a ploy by the FBI agent that’s been following them since Providence. Nicholas is arrested, Bobby is released and Lloyd is devastated. They end up walking back to Providence but not before they reject an enticing offer from a bus full of bikini models to be their ‘oil boys’ and instead go home whilst keeping an eye open for their ‘big break’.
‘Dumb and Dumber’ was released on December 16th, 1994 and against a $17 Million budget, took in an impressive $247.3 Million whilst also receiving positive reviews from critics. The film went on to win a few awards and was generally well received.
But that’s not the end.
‘Dumb and Dumber’ would spawn an animated series (which lasted one season), a prequel film (which was shit) and after 20 years would finally get a sequel (which I haven’t seen). Apparently, the sequel did alright financially but not many people liked it.
So there it is. The Jim Carrey 3. I can totally understand why Jim Carrey became a massive star based on these three movies. He is a really good actor and can always make me laugh even though I’m so jaded and have pretty much seen everything at this point. Apparently, Jim Carrey is going to play ‘Dr Robotnik’ in the new ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ film that’s coming out. I know he’ll do that justice.
By the way, I’ve written a book. If you love me, grab a copy!