There’s not a lot of brain work involved in “Dumb and Dumber,” a flat-out celebration of stupidity, bodily functions and pratfalls. Yet the wholeheartedness of this descent into crude and rude humor is so good-natured and precise that it’s hard not to partake in the guilty pleasures of the exercise. From its first frames to fade out, the film is high-gloss, lowbrow comedy that will have general audiences doubled up with laughter. The unapologetic nature of the movie, combined with a strong cast and slick production values, smells decidedly like money.
“D&D” should be one of the big hits of the season and play well especially with a young crowd. It may also, like “Airplane!,” be the upscale antidote film — the goofy pressure valve release that kicks in after a season of sober-sided fare.
Harry Dunne (Jeff Daniels) is a rather inept dog groomer who has transformed his van exterior to resemble a sheep dog. Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey), who resembles a latter-day Carl “Alfalfa” Switzer, is a limo driver with higher aspirations — he’s saving to open a worm supply warehouse he’s imaginatively dubbed “I Got Worms.”
When Mary Swanson (Lauren Holly) enters Lloyd’s limo for a ride to the airport, his heart flies out the sun roof. He’s really struck dumb, and bids her a tearful goodbye at the curb. As he pulls away — smack into another vehicle — he notices that his charge has left her briefcase right in the middle of the terminal. Ever gallant, he retrieves it, but not quite in time to get it aboard Mary’s flight to Aspen.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure where the story is going … the slopes of Colorado, dummy. The slight variation is that Mary doesn’t want the valise; it’s filled with $ 100,000 in ransom money that her husband’s kidnappers are supposed to retrieve. But Lloyd got there first and is blissfully unaware of the contents as he and Harry speed cross-country in the flea-infested van.
Needless to say, the plot is no more than a loose device on which to hang an endless supply of well-executed, if sophomoric, jokes, with a pronounced emphasis on scatological humor.
The entire affair escapes the gutter thanks to Daniels, Carrey, Holly and a string of very good supporting players. Daniels is particularly adroit in his role, willingly giving himself up to his character’s inanity without winking to the audience.
Tyro filmmaker Peter Farrelly (who also co-wrote) displays a natural flair for comedy and pacing. A major part of the film’s success is in not overplaying its crudeness. He also dilutes the vulgarity with very strong tech credits and highly imaginative wardrobe by Mary Zophres.
The film is about as canny, hip and commercial as comedies come. It’s ideal fare for those who want to laugh themselves sick.