Jeff Daniels

Dumb and Dumber To

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.

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Dumb and Dumber To

Another lifetime ago, Jim Carrey was set to star in a modern Three Stooges movie, presumably running on his side and slapping himself as Curly Howard. As we all know, the Farrelly Brothers film got put through the development blender and came out on the other side an equally foolish yet watered down project. A devolution from bizarrely fascinating experiment to DTV-esque. Watching the Dumb and Dumber To trailer, it’s hard not to imagine that the Farrellys should have stuck with the stooges they knew all along. The smart idiocy, the “Whose On First?”-ism, the delightful pratfalls. They’ve essentially made their third Stooges movie. Their second featuring The Two Stooges. Their stooges. Obviously a lot of real life got in the way of getting a sequel to Harry and Lloyd’s original adventure (which was also the Farrellys original adventure in feature filmmaking), and a decades-later sequel will almost always feel like creatives heading back to the well, but with this trailer it’s easy to see that (at least) they’ve taken the comedy seriously.

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Few will be able to say they played a part in the cultural revolution known simply as Dumb and Dumber To. But only one man – Rob Riggle - will be able to say it twice. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the former Daily Show correspondent has been cast in a dual role in the upcoming sequel, portraying both a handyman named Travis and his twin brother Captain Lippencott. Twin characters all but guarantee some kind of gag where Harry and Lloyd mistake one Riggle for the other, with extra-hilarious results. And the title of “Captain” may imply that Harry and Lloyd will be on the run from the police, which would make sense given what we know about the story so far. The sequel will see Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels‘ dimwitted duo searching for Daniels’ long-lost child, and forced to contend with a bloodthirsty Laurie Holden for some reason. But, considering that this is Dumb and Dumber To, Riggle’s character might just as easily be a naval captain or a lunatic who thinks he’s a spaceship pilot. No matter what type of captain this Lippencott really is, his is one of the last major roles left to be cast in the film. That means Dumb and Dumber To will soon be upon us. Prepare yourselves for the glorious golden age that will soon follow.

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Fans of the bowl cut, rejoice! The first pictures of Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels, haircuts and all, in Dumb and Dumber To have hit the net, thanks to the combined Tweeting efforts of Carrey, Daniels, and whoever is in charge of the film’s official Twitter page. We can all rest easy knowing that Carrey and Daniels haven’t lost their ability to look deranged and to sport unpleasant hairdos, and that their inventive comic genius is still going strong (look closely, and you may realize the book they’re reading…is actually upside down!). But one thing that hasn’t been addressed yet is how Dumb and Dumber To will handle a Harry and Lloyd that have aged twenty years. As young men, they looked like buffoons. As wizened elders, they’ve adopted more of a serial killer-y vibe. Hopefully the film will take that into account. View them below in all their sweet, stupid glory.

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The Newsroom

Any talk of “News Night with Will MacAvoy’s” credibility hurts The Newsroom‘s credibility. Because the series takes place in what is basically a vacuum, connected to the outside world only through cameras, the Internet, and the occasional white-guilt trip to Africa, any plot device or emotional stake that hinges on how the fictional program is perceived by those outside its self-contained universe is difficult to care about. Charlie and Will can bemoan their show’s falling polls and the petitions demanding its cancellation all they want, but those threats have all the significance of a Sloan non sequitur. The only thing that apparently matters is that “News Night” stays in Leona and Reese’s good graces, and since Leona’s had a personality transplant and Reese is getting laid by a Rockette, “News Night” is in luck. That’s why the second season of The Newsroom, while being an improvement over the slapsticky first, has been such a disappointment. Watching the elaborately structured Operation Genoa storyline – which was hinted at from the season premiere – play out was like looking at a garden maze you later realize is made of plastic trees. Its intricacy is admirable, but there’s something off-putting about its artificiality. All the horrific consequences Charlie alluded to – falling ratings, angry letters, the airing of ACN’s dirty laundry – is about as dangerous as sarin gas to that polyurethane labyrinth.

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prettybird

Dumb and Dumber is one of those comedies that was such a success that it became part of the fabric of our cultural humor. And by culture we’re not talking about today’s modern, Twitter culture, where jokes get appropriated by hipster types, ran into the ground, and then forgotten all in a manner of days. Dumb and Dumber dug so deep into our culture that it hit the middlest parts of Middle America, and it remained a lingering presence for such a long time that you can still occasionally go into coffee shops and bars and hear people making references to the film using phrases like “Excuse me, Flo,” “Kick his ass, Sea Bass,” and “So, you’re telling me there’s a chance?” Dumb and Dumber came out in 1994. That’s a heck of a long time for people to be quoting a movie. But, despite how deeply loved the film is, a proper sequel is something that has still yet to happen. Its directors, Peter and Bobby Farrelly, have been talking about making one for a whole lot of years, but it’s only been in recent months that a sequel that brings back the brother duo as well as both Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels has been confirmed, and then been rushed toward a fall start date. Really, the involvement of the filmmakers and the stars is the only thing we’ve known about Dumb and Dumber To up until this point though—which has felt strange. Fortunately, that situation has now […]

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The Newsroom

This season’s premiere of The Newsroom was a bit like drinking an entire bottle of NyQuil before being forced to read a children’s copy of “The Economist” knowing there’d be a quiz later (drone strike!). It tried to distance itself from the previous season almost entirely without learning from its narrative missteps, so now we’re down one bodyguard, and they’ve used two scenes to dump a love quadrangle that used to monopolize screen time. That last part is probably for the best (and hopefully it sticks), and now we have a different crisis to deal with in the form of what looks like a factual honey trap for Will and the news team. But beyond the possible fatal flaw of trying to make us relive news that just happened (while so much current news is out there to contend with right now), there are three things holding the show back from being successful. Things that Aaron Sorkin has produced out of a magic hat before on The West Wing. Things that don’t at all include musical theater history.

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dumber

“So you’re telling me there’s a chance?”  In a recent appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Jeff Daniels confirmed that the long-awaited sequel to 1994’s Dumb & Dumber will finally start shooting this fall, just in time for a release for the film’s 20th anniversary. Dumb & Dumber To has been in the works for quite some time, but the Farelly Brothers-helmed film ran into conflict when New Line Cinema and Warner Bros. decided to pass on the film; Universal Pictures and Red Granite Pictures then stepped in to save the day. Though the details of the plot are still a mystery, Daniels dished to Jimmy Fallon about the hilarity of seeing himself and Jim Carrey play their iconic characters twenty years later. “I’ve seen the script,” Daniels said. “It’s hysterical. We’re middle-aged, we’re not pretending we aren’t. We’re middle-aged and we’re still that stupid.”

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dumber

What is Casting Couch? Your daily dose of casting news. Today we’ve, of course, got the latest name to be confirmed for the Veronica Mars movie, as well as some info about the casting process for Star Wars: Episode VII. They’ve been talking about putting together a sequel to Dumb and Dumber for quite some time now. The project has seen its share of ups and downs, however, and many people have probably started to think that it’s just one of those things that’s never going to happen. A new report from Deadline claims that those fears are unfounded though. They’re reporting that Dumb and Dumber To has just landed in the lap of Universal, and not only are Peter and Bobby Farrelly on board to direct and do a re-write of the current script, but both Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels are on board to reprise their roles of Harry and Lloyd, as well. And more than that even, this is said to be a movie that’s been put on the fast track, so it should see scheduling starting soon. That all sounds pretty official, right?

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commentary-looper

Rian Johnson‘s Looper is a rare film for many reasons. The only thing rarer than Hollywood committing to a mid-budget sci-fi film is one featuring an original idea not based on an existing property. Even better though, the film is unafraid to go to some very dark places with some wholly unexpected events, and the result is a rewarding experience for film goers. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis star as young and old versions of the same character who come face to face in a fight for their separate but clearly connected lives. It’s smart, exciting and challenging in the way no big budget blockbuster could ever hope to be. Three of its key players sat down to record a commentary track for next week’s Blu-ray/DVD release, and we gave it a listen. Come along won’t you, and read what we heard…

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Culture Warrior

Warning: This post contains spoilers for Looper. Several hours after seeing Rian Johnson’s Looper, I find the film still rattling in my head. Not because certain moments have resonated with me, nor because the möbius strip sci-fi structure has motivated any existential introspection. Instead, I felt surprisingly conflicted by Looper, perhaps more so than any other film this year. Looper is a film that consists of so many great parts, miles above what most studio genre fare has released this year, yet somehow even the success of these parts didn’t seem to cohere into a resonant whole on the drive home. What stands out the most about Looper is the emotional and thematic import of the film’s time travel plot device. In situating a young man confronting his aged (and changed) self, a middle-aged man attempting to change course in his life through any means possible, and several evident cycles of fate-determining actions shared between characters, Looper connects its investigation of predestination v. free will to a rumination on how our choices directly effect the lives of others in lasting ways. The logic of Looper lays out a vision of life that includes many potential options from which we choose or have chosen for us. Here there is no such thing as fate, only opened and closed opportunities, the implications of which we can’s possibly comprehend in the present moment.

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Now that Looper is a decent hit — especially in China — we can anticipate that people will be discussing the movie around the web, the water cooler and wherever else we talk about movies these days. Much of the conversation will be devoted to the usual with the time travel subgenre: paradoxes, the workings of the time machine, plot holes, why wasn’t Hitler killed, etc. But with this particular story there’s one major point of discussion I’m interested in, and of course it involves spoilers. So, if you’ve seen the movie or are just one of those who don’t care about stuff being ruined, join me after the break as I ask…

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Dumb and Dumber 2

It’s, in a word, perfect. Talk about Bobby and Peter Farrelly‘s sequel to their comedy classic Dumb and Dumber had just about reached Ghostbusters 3 proportions (a special new realm occupied by Kick-Ass 2 talk) back in June when Jim Carrey dropped out, but the pair seem bound and determined to make the film happen, and with both Carrey and Jeff Daniels back as Lloyd and Harry. Perhaps in a bid to get some real heat on the project, Bobby Farrelly fessed up to DigitalSpy some meaty details about the sequel, and they sound – this might sound crazy – actually completely spot-on. How often does that happen to a sequel? Straight out of the gate, Farrelly says that both Carrey and Daniels are set for this film, and gives fans the solemn vow that “we will make this movie.” Well, alrighty! But what’s it about?

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Culture Warrior

Two nights ago, Aaron Sorkin’s heavily-anticipated and rather polarizing new show The Newsroom aired its debut on HBO. With the pilot’s central focus on the BP oilrig explosion, the premium cable network has established itself (alongside with their recent TV movies) as the primary venue for dramatizing recent political history. However, other contemporary television shows have addressed political issues well beyond the headlines of the past few years. In this election year, it seems that TV comedies and dramas from several networks have a surprising amount to say about the political process in a way that resonates with this uncertain, often frustrating moment. Here’s how The Newsroom stacks up against a triumvirate of other TV shows with overtly political themes…

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Aaron Sorkin

Please read this article with caution as it does contain plot details that some may consider spoilers for the first episode of HBO’s The Newsroom. After screening the pilot episode (“We Just Decided To”) of Aaron Sorkin’s new show The Newsroom, the Los Angeles Film Festival audience was treated to a Q&A session which featured Sorkin himself along with executive producer Alan Poul, director Greg Mottola, and moderated by Madeleine Brand (The Madeleine Brand Show.) Anyone who has attended a Sorkin Q&A (or seen the man speak) knows that it is the equivalent of being shot out of a cannon. Sorkin’s signature fast-talk does not just live on the pages he writes, it is also how Sorkin speaks himself. It was clear that whatever Sorkin and Brand had spoken about prior to coming into the theater had left them both riled up. Brand (much like the Northwestern professor does to Jeff Daniels’ character, Will McAvoy, in the first scene of the premiere episode) refused to let Sorkin get away with non-answers or quips. Brand continuously pushed him until Sorkin, the man of a million words, let out an exasperated breath… and then jumped right back in.

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After having to deal with those teasers-for-the-teaser annoyance, we now have the actual teaser trailer for writer/director Rian Johnson‘s Looper, his futuristic sci-fi thriller featuring a Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt face-off, both playing the same character. Right off the bat you can see Gordon-Levitt is channeling Willis’s well-known demeanor and style. But based on the impression this trailer gives, it’s an actual transformation, not an impersonation. Take a peek at Bruce Willis apologizing for Surrogates:

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Channel Guide - Large

In 1985, John Fogerty was sued for plagiarizing himself. It was a bizarre courtroom situation that arose because Fogerty had forfeited the rights to his old Creedance Clearwater Revival hits to a former record label that went after him when a song he wrote on his new album “Centerfield” sounded too much like his own work. Copyright law is complicated. What can you do. In the last week, a script surfaced that’s purportedly the pilot to The Newsroom, the new HBO show from Aaron Sorkin, and it feels a bit like Fogerty all over again. Sorkin is cribbing off of Sorkin. Of course there are a million grains of salt to throw with this. The primary one being that random scripts on the old internet could be from anywhere. For some reason, writers believe they can fake leaked scripts in order to gain a name through the back door (like writers did on Studio 60 when they weren’t being heard in the room), but it’s actually the writing equivalent of suicide by cop (which a troubled man did on an episode of The West Wing). The internet can be an unforgiving place and pretending to be another writer automatically creates a comparison that no one can survive against. However, this particular script (which you can find if you search for it) seems legit. But there’s a funny thing there, when you’re reading a curious script that can be from anyone. In the back of your mind, you’re imagining that someone […]

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Rian Johnson

The powers that be at Film School Rejects were wise enough to include Rian Johnson‘s sci-fi pic Looper as one of our Most Anticipated Films of 2012, and it’s certainly in my top 3 for the year as well. Sadly, the film is still far off and we’ve only gotten a few behind-the-scenes pics (via Looper‘s Twitter feed) and an official shot showcasing Bruce Willis doing what he does best. Now we have gotten another behind-the-scenes picture which may give you a better idea of what to expect. Johnson released this pretty damn cool shot of the film’s time travel machine, and it looks like a down and dirty time machine, a.k.a. it’s not shiny and all that stuff.

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This is so much better than The Three Stooges. Having wrapped that “dream project,” it looks like Peter and Bobby Farrelly are interested in working on a film that, oh, I don’t know, people might actually want to see? Getting back to their glory days, the Farrellys have set a pair of writers to pen a Dumb and Dumber sequel. We will all gracefully bow our heads and tip our orange top hats forward to have a brief moment of silence for that other sequel, the abomination known as Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd, 2003′s horrific prequel that starred Eric Christian Olsen and Derek Richardson as Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne in their high school years. Shia LaBeouf also starred as another student (fun trivia!). The entire film centered on a pervasive lie that Lloyd, Harry, the ol’ Beefster, and a bunch of other kids were actually mentally challenged. Hilarious, right? Everyone loves making fun of mentally challenged kids! Ugh. Forgetting that nightmare, Sean Anders and John Morris have been hired to pen the sequel. The hope is to bring back both Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels, which answers the “but when will this potential sequel take place?” question quite handily. Nowish!

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I recently read a figure somewhere that said 2011 would have more sequels, prequels, reboots, and remakes of pre-existing films than any other year in history. Even if that isn’t true, it certainly feels true, so it doesn’t come as a shock to me that when he was recently questioned about future plans, Jim Carrey said that he would probably be working on some sequels of past hits. In an upcoming interview with Coming Soon, Carrey said of his possible next projects, “We’re talking about maybe returning to some old characters that everyone has been asking about. There’s Bruce Almighty and we’re talking about maybe another Dumb and Dumber.” Okay, so it sounds like his next move is more likely to be a revisiting of his Godly character from Bruce Almighty, but I’m not going to focus on that because I can’t imagine there’s anybody out there who’s really clamoring for another go around on the Almighty train (though I’m certain if that person exists they’re going to find me in the comments section). What I believe would be more interesting to more people is the possibility of Carrey and Jeff Daniels getting back together to make another Dumb and Dumber. Seventeen years after that film’s release there is still one guy in every crowd who will yell out, “kick his ass, Sea Bass” every time it looks like a fight is going to break out. People remember that movie very fondly. Of course, there was already the prequel film […]

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