What do we know about comedy sequels? Let’s think about this year’s biggest comedy sequel so far, 22 Jump Street, which lovingly pulls from both its first film and its source material (as much as we can call a bad eighties television show “source material,” like it’s a J.R.R. Tolkien book or whatever) for its gags, is hilariously portrayed by modern comedy’s most unexpected comedic duo and also injects the whole thing with a knowing wink-wink about the nature of franchise humor in general. What can we glean from that? Just the basics — comedy is hard, sequels are harder and there’s never any guarantee that what worked before will work again (if it even worked at all).
So let’s talk about Dumb and Dumber To, which seems unafraid to do the one thing it probably shouldn’t: recycle jokes that worked before without the added intelligence or irony that comes with acknowledging that, hey, we did these jokes before. The sequel’s first trailer didn’t layer on the repeat jokes too thickly, but its new international trailer spreads it on like comedic marshmallow fluff. It’s sticky and hard to swallow, and it sure doesn’t bode well for the final product. Here, watch the latest Dumb and Dumber To trailer, and remember when all these jokes were funny — the first time around.
That’s not even the second most annoying sound in the world, Lloyd, it’s really not.
And it’s not just the old jokes that are galling us when it comes to this much-hyped sequel, here’s something else about this film that rubs us, perhaps not in the wrong way, but in a way that doesn’t automatically scream, look how funny this is! That would be actual emotional stakes. Or, at least as close to “actual emotional stakes” as a Dumb and Dumber film can get.
What made Dumb and Dumber so funny is that it (and it’s seemingly one-note jokes) had no real consequences — sure, the guys didn’t have jobs and the trip was a bad idea and there was some briefcase-involved danger lingering around them and Lauren Holly rebuffed both of them in a big way — but it existed in a world where two idiots could essentially steal a ton of money, spend it on spa treatments and hideous matching tuxedos and be just kind of fine. Yeah, a couple of birds die and Lloyd gets his heart broken and a man drank pee, but there’s no question that Harry and Lloyd will ultimately be just fine. So it’s more than a little weird that the heart of this particular story involves a child who has never met her real parents. Who is about to be found. And hit on by her father’s best friend. Ew.
Who wants to bet that she’s not actually Harry’s kid and we can just skate right by this plot point?
Recycled jokes and weird emotional beats aside, what Dumb and Dumber To does have going for it is Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels‘ still-excellent comedic chemistry. Twenty years later, and these two are still a hell of a duo, even if they are saddled with jokes and beats that are literally two decades too old.
Dumb and Dumber To will open on November 14th. [ComingSoon]