Numb and Numberer
I’ve never walked out of a movie, even before I started reviewing them. Coulda been a misplaced sense of optimism, like there was a chance that even, oh, Christopher Columbus: The Discovery — one of the downright awfulest movies I’ve ever seen, featuring Marlon Brando as Torquemada and, I kid you not, Tom Selleck as the King of Spain — might somehow redeem itself in the last 30 seconds. Now that I am reviewing films, the primary motivation keeping me in my seat — and the same one that keeps me from ever popping out in the middle of a film for a bathroom break or to get another soda — is that I honestly don’t feel like I can say anything, good or bad, unless I’ve seen the entire film.
The closest I’ve ever come to walking out of a movie — and I mean, I came thisclose — was with Dumb and Dumber. It was also the first time I’d ever been actually embarrassed for an actor in a film, and that was during Jeff Daniels’ losing battle with an overdose of laxative. I couldn’t believe that any actor would humiliate himself like that onscreen, certainly not one with a long list of respectable credits to his name — it’s not he was some 17-year-old girl off the bus from Kansas who’d do anything for a part in a movie.
It’s a measure of how far Hollywood has debased itself — and, by extension, the audience — and how literally disgusting movies have become that Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd could barely move me to feel anything — not disgust, not anger, not annoyance — except a kind of listless boredom. Oh, I glanced at my watch every 10 hours or so only to discover that mere minutes had passed, but never did it even cross my mind that if I really wanted to leave, no one could stop me.
If a movie wants to get on my shit list today, it has to try a lot harder than Dumb and Dumberer does. Swiping poop jokes from Caddyshack and throwing around ethnic stereotypes typically heard on the playgrounds of elementary schools simply won’t do it: A movie needs to drown its cast in gallons of sperm or have them chasing runaway testicles through hospital corridors to even begin to cheese me off now. I’ve seen it all, and so has the rest of the moviegoing audience. Even the one who actually enjoy jokes about bodily fluids and degrading anyone not white, male, and under 25 will be hard-pressed to find any new ground broken here.
The Farrelly Brothers, curse them, did break new, poop-splattered ground with Dumb and Dumber, starting this cycle we’re mired in, of the gross-out comedy. It woulda been so nicely ironic to be able to say they’ve hoist themselves on their own petard with the prequel, but alas, they had nothing to do with it. Word is that the South Park boys, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, were given buckets of money to come up with a script for the infamous first meeting of Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne, but after giving it a shot, they returned the buckets of money, saying it was impossible. But there’s always someone willing to take Hollywood’s buckets of money, and yet even director (and cowriter, with Robert Brenner) Troy Miller — who brought us Jack Frost, one of the most unintentionally horrifying films ever made — couldn’t muster the wherewithal to give us something that would make you claw your eyes out, seeking relief from the nightmare.
It’s really sad that no one involved in Dumb and Dumberer could even be engaged enough to make a truly idiotic, genuinely infuriating film. Instead we have the merely inadequate doofuses Eric Christian Olsen and Derek Richardson as, respectively, Lloyd and Harry, aping Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels to only a minorly annoying degree, behaving like only middling morons, and inconsistent ones, at that. (Lloyd alternates between thinking girls are “for fags” and chasing one.) Eugene Levy — who’s gotta be here strictly to pay the mortgage — as the high-school principal, cannot hope to offend like he did in Bringing Down the House; instead of engaging in a cringe-inducing blackface routine, he’s merely a somewhat dumb and somewhat horny schemer. A Chinese girl is dubbed Ching Chong, which may well bring a little tear to your eye with how hard they try to turn such a petty little third-grade insult into something approaching obnoxiousness.
Bob Saget, as a hapless victim of Lloyd and Harry’s dumbererness, gets to yell “Shit!” about a hundred times, and even that’s just more sad than anything else. I imagine someone thought it would be like hearing Father Knows Best‘s Robert Young go all scatological on us. But this is Full House‘s Bob Saget, for pete’s sake. With those freaking Olsen twins underfoot all the time, I think we all knew he was yelling “Shit!” a hundred times a day.