When Harry Met Lloyd: Dumb and Dumberer Review

by John Ulmer (johnulmer2003 AT msn DOT com)
November 11th, 2003


Verdict: * * 1/2 (see bottom for rating scale)


Want to hear something funny? I laughed at "Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd." In fact, at about four scenes I was rolling over in laughter. And not just me -- people in front of and behind me were roaring in laughter, too.

It's not a good movie. It's understandably hated. But to name it the 68th worst movie ever (according to the Internet Movie Database) is shameful. I have seen far worse. Yes, the movie is filmed in the distinct style of a bad movie. It has a bad script. Most of its jokes are bad. It's essentially a bad movie. But it's not awful. And when I left, I had a smile on my face, because I had expected a depressing comedy and I got a goofy, good-natured one with a few good gags and a lot of good spirit. In its essence, it is quite easy to watch and -- perhaps -- just a little bit fun.

I say this not out of prior prejudice, as much as I may have enjoyed the first installment, but out of surprise, because I expected it to give a bad name to the first film, "Dumb and Dumber" (1994). I read all the bad reviews before going into "Dumb and Dumberer." I didn't expect to laugh a single minute time, and I expected it to be a pale imitation of its predecessor.
I did laugh. Not much, but I did. And it's not a pale imitation of the first film--it isn't nearly as solid in direction (thanks to the absence of the Farrelly Brothers), but this is a good thing. If it had been, it would have been depressing. It's an energetic and short little film that actually, believe it or not, entertains, despite its insanely mediocre plot.

I don't think it wanted to try to be like the first film, because it knew that it couldn't be and never would be. So it's just a sappy little 90-minute movie with a few good gags and a notably convincing portrayal of a younger Jim Carrey (or Lloyd Christmas) from Eric Christian Olsen. His face is often contorted with an arched eyebrow. To those who said he didn't look like Jim Carrey: Shame on you. He's even got the movements and physical gestures down pat.

It's 1986. Lloyd (Olsen) lives with his stepfather (Luis Guzman), the local high school janitor. Rushing to catch the bus for school one day, he turns around a corner and (literally) bumps into Harry Dunne (Derek Richardson), a homeschooler whose first day of school begins on that very day. Lloyd gets his tooth chipped when they bump into each other and immediately they are best pals.

As Lloyd shows Harry the ropes at school, Principal Collins (Eugene Levy) sets up a "special needs" program at the school as a way of cheating his way to a 100,000 dollar grant from a pay program, which -- unbeknownst to him -- is all just an FBI sting. The cafeteria cook (Chery Oteri), who is also Collins' lover, plays teacher to Harry, Lloyd and a band of other "special" kids. Meanwhile, Harry and Lloyd's friendship starts to blossom.

You want to know the scene that had my hysterically laughing in this film? It's the most juvenile scene in the entire movie, and I know this, but it was great. Bob Saget ("Full House") plays the uptight father of Jessica, Harry's wannabe love interest. Invited to dinner at their house, Harry accidentally spreads melted chocolate all over the bathroom wall. After leaving, Saget walks in and sees it, completely freaks out, and starts to curse up a storm. Let's just say that he thinks it is something other than chocolate covering his bathroom.

Ah, yes. Potty humor. How ineffective it was in "Daddy Day Care" and how joyful it is here. Sometimes it's too silly and childish. Other times it's funny. I can't help it. Quoting the tagline for "Wayne's World" (1993), "You'll laugh. You'll cry. You'll hurl." I did all three. Well, almost.
I thought it was just I. But no, other people were laughing, too. Not just kids in the theater, but also parents and the attendants of the snack area in the screening room.

I cherish "Dumb and Dumber," the original, because I find its buddies lovable and its goofiness contagious. I am a big fan of the buddy movie sub genre, specifically the Odd Couple stuff. "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" (1987) will always be considered a classic in my book. So will "Dumb and Dumber," simply because I think it set out exactly what it tried to do, and it's the type of movie that puts me in a good mood no matter what. It puts a smile on my face.

"Dumb and Dumberer" is not in its league. It's too childish, too crude, too immature, too plain stupid. But y'know what? It sure is a lot dumber than the first film. Perhaps even dumberer. Like I said above, after reading the negative press about this film I really expected a shameless cash-in on the original. In a way, that's what I got. But I admire this film's spirit. It knows it's nothing great. And it didn't harm me, despite all its crude humor and childish jokes. In a way, it's almost admirable because the director, Troy Miller, managed to create a film that plastered a goofy little grin on my face without disgusting me like "Daddy Day Care" did, a "family" comedy minus the laughs. This one works, in an odd sort of way. And, for once, a film title lives up to its name. This movie is certainly dumberer than the first.

Note: I seem to be praising this film. I'm not. It is merely a mediocre comedy. I withhold its flaws in my review specifically because it surprised me very much and, despite being an undoubtedly bad movie, I don't necessarily find it harmful in any way, shape or form. It's a goofy little comedy with a smaller heart than the first but a heart nevertheless. I give it a bad rating because it trips more than it succeeds. But I will add a disclaimer to this review: It's not as bad as you think...and you may be surprised. This film puts a small little smile on your face.

- John Ulmer
Webmaster of The Movie Portal

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Rating Scale:

***** - masterpiece
**** - very good
*** - accomplished what it set out to do; good
** - wait for TV
* - if you want a painful experience
0 stars/Turkey - one of the worst films of all time

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