Like Stephen King, but Carrey dies well before the end

The Farrelly Brothers, the masters of gross-out slapstick (There’s Something About Mary, Kingpin), have returned to their 1994 debut and their hapless pair of pals, Harry (Daniels) and Lloyd (Carrey). 

This time Harry desperately needs a kidney transplant, so when it transpires that he unwittingly fathered a child (during a one night ride on the village bicycle 20 years ago), he and Lloyd set off in search of Penny (Melvin), his potential donor/daughter. 

This premise is strung out over the course of 109 minutes, a feat which in itself would be commendable if only it weren’t such a painful process to watch. 

The death knoll is sounding
It all starts with a derogatory joke about ginger babies – and in the immediate aftermath of that, the only sound that can be heard above the theatre’s deafening silence is the death knoll of Jim Carrey’s career. 

Daniels will survive this – his regular stint on HBO’s The Newsroom is immensely popular – so we needn’t be concerned for him. The Farrelly Brothers are apparently immune to any of the laws that normally apply to failing filmmakers, but Carrey on the other hand, easily the most gifted of the team, represents more of a conundrum. 

Daniels never fully manages to disappear into Harry, but despite Carrey’s commitment to Lloyd belying his tangible fatigue, he admirably attempts to muster the same ‘90s gusto he displayed in many earlier, more-deserving roles.

More likely to barf than laugh 
Following that inauspicious start, it’d be unfair to imply Carrey’s good intentions don’t occasionally pay off, but that opening bar is set pretty low. Admittedly I laughed more than once – several times in fact. Far more often though, I felt physically uncomfortable – and not in the way the Farrellys intended. 

Much of the signature shock value of their earlier films has lost its sheen, precisely because their taboo-breaking brand has been repeatedly updated – after all, it’s now many years since we first guffawed at the iconic semen in Cameron Diaz’s hair or Ben Stiller’s testicles trapped in his flies. This time, the surreal surprises work best: death by silent train or a dog farting feathers.

Carrying heavier baggage 
Carrey, now 52, was never everyone’s cup of tea – least of all, actor Tommy Lee Jones’s. The original Dumb & Dumber didn’t fare so well with critics, but it opened to big numbers in the States, trouncing Jones’s Cobb, a biographical baseball bid for Oscar gold that opened on the same weekend.

Apparently Lee-Jones has remained sore ever since, allegedly telling Carrey: “I hate you. I cannot sanction your buffoonery”. (Or was it just mucking around on the set of Batman Forever, which they appeared in together a year later?) Jones’s forthcoming The Homesman will mean, ironically, they’ll again be sharing the limelight, although he’s unlikely to fear Carrey’s box-office pull this time round.

For anyone who’s seen The Mask (and who hasn’t?), there’s no doubting Carrey’s command of physical comedy, but a decade ago saw him seize a rare opportunity for dramatic pathos in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004). We got a glimpse of a capable actor showing far more than he’d previously been allowed. One can only hope a similar opportunity presents itself again.

Reviving this ‘90s favourite probably seemed like an opportunity to regain some box-office traction – and while it’s quite obvious that Carrey’s career badly needs a hit, this certainly isn’t it.
 


Dumb and Dumber To

heartheart

Dir: Peter & Bobby Farrelly; US comedy, 2014, 109 mins; Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels, Laurie Holden, Kathleen Turner, Rachel Melvin
Premiered November 27
Playing Nationwide