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Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne became two of our favourite characters of the nineties. The classically stupid comedy Dumb and Dumber gave us some great moments merely by playing off some talent (read Jim Carrey) with a script that is clever enough to be both astoundingly stupid and hilariously funny at the same time. A sequel was an obvious option, but so far down the track that bringing in Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels for one more round was both prohibitively expensive and basically impossible for the two actors to happily return. So a prequel was born in all its idiotic glory.

With cash-in sequels standard practice for any studio nowadays, it’s interesting to see how some of them fare. There are some mild successes (Final Destination 2, American Pie 2 & 3) but for the most part there are plenty more misses than hits. Which is why films such as Wild Things 2 and Starship Troopers 2 are going straight to the rental and retail market on DVD. With that in mind it becomes even more surprising that a half-cooked idea that is Dumb & Dumberer was sent to the big screen to die its inevitably quick death.

Dumb & Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd
Movie
We rewind some years to see Harry Dunne (Derek Richardson) as a small child. His mother (played by Mimi Rogers, credibility now in freefall) had been schooling him at home presumably because he’s just too thick to even think of attending class like a normal kid. But a change of heart see little Harry trundle off for his first day with a treasure map in tow. Naturally he gets lost but is fortunate enough to bump into Lloyd Christmas (Eric Christian Olsen, who I’ll come to later), son of a janitor (Luis Guzman) and stupid enough to leave the school grounds so he can catch the school bus. Their first meeting is funny enough (“You’re Santa’s kid?!”), but that’s really where the laughter ends and the creativity flies out the window.

All the major jokes from the first film are basically repeated here on a smaller and less effective scale. A trip to the toilet substitutes chocolate with the other brown stuff from the original, the agony over turning down some hot women goes from a busload to a pair of twins, and the whole love thing with Rachel Nichols (who needs a new agent and a fresh start after this one) is just a carbon copy of the much more hilarious antics from the first film. Very little has been done to make this at least somewhat different a funny, with an obvious mind to really keeping that link with the original.

The crux of the story surrounds Harry and Lloyd becoming involved in a “special needs” class, a scheme cooked up by devious principal Collins (Eugene Levy still stuck in “Pie” mode) and his lunch-lady lover Ms. Heller (Cheri Oteri) to siphon funds from the school and go on holiday. The way the boys get to choose their other “special” classmates isn’t funny at all, just a lame excuse to introduce a few more characters and keep things moving in the loosely threaded plot.

It may sound like there’s nothing going for the film at all, which is not true. Eric Christian Olsen (from Not Another Teen Movie) is by far the shining light, and surprisingly does nothing to harm his career with this brilliant impression of a young Jim Carrey/Lloyd Christmas. Olsen has Carrey down pat, or at least Carrey from the original. There’s the jutted jaw, physical movements and even the voice and look that is trademark Carrey. Not only that, though, but Olsen sells Lloyd very well despite having some pretty lame material. The charisma of the character from the first film is evident here and goes a long way to helping audiences through what is really a complete mess.

Fans of Dumb and Dumber will be disappointed that the second film hasn’t any of the biting jokes and cheeky sexual innuendo that was so effective back in 1994. It’s almost too nice a film with a pair of characters who don’t really attract bizarre situations, merely stumble upon them, somehow succeed in what they do then go on their stupid way. Giving them a certain devilish quality, while still being grounded in their utter stupidity, would have really added some bite to a film that ends up looking like an alternate version of Scooby-Doo. There aren’t enough musical montages and flashbacks to save this one, I’m afraid. As a straight-to-video release this might have been worth a release, but giving it a full-fledged theatrical push is tantamount to cinematic suicide.

Dumb & Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd
Video
Keeping with Roadshow’s tradition of providing some stellar transfers of New Line schlock, the 1.85:1 presentation is quite impressive overall. It’s a little more grainy than the higher-budget releases, yet the sharpness and vibrancy of colour can’t really be faulted. Aliasing bobs up briefly a couple of times but there’s nothing distracting about the transfer at all. The heap of colour afforded the film definitely helps, but it wouldn’t look as good without a decent transfer behind it. Thumbs up for the presentation, that’s for sure.

Audio
A Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is accompanied by a stereo version, yet really there’s not much between them. Sure, there are occasional effects that bounce around the rears here and there, but apart from that the music is the only thing lifting the 5.1 track above a very front-heavy level. Some funky tracks such as Vanilla Ice’s Ice Ice Baby use all the speakers to pump out the sound, which is basically the only time you’ll notice anything substantial from behind your head. The dialogue is clear at all times and shifts around the front speakers quite well, but there’s very little else to get excited about with this soundtrack.

Extras
The extras package looks quite impressive on the surface, especially with three commentary tracks involved in proceedings. The first track is with director Troy Miller and actors Eric Christian Olsen and Derek Richardson. These guys have a good rapport but too much of it is really just back-slapping and admiring of each others’ work. Even if the film was a good one the track still heads way too far down the congratulatory track.

The second commentary, with film critics Samuel Shavers and Thompson Jennings, manages to place basically the only two film critics who would’ve participated in this together to heap praise on Troy Miller’s work. The whole thing is done incredibly tongue-in-cheek as if this was a groundbreaking piece of filmmaking, with the pair just taking the mickey out of everything as they pretend to portray their amazement at the film’s perfection. I’m not entirely sure of the value of this track as this is by no means an honest account from either of them, so listening to it becomes a rather odd experience. Thankfully it only last a short while before we’re cut off and sent straight back to the main menu.

The third track is even more bizarre. Featuring members of the Ciccone family (wasn’t that Madonna’s last name?), who are what seems to be comedians trying to be funny over the top of the film, what we get here is a track which simulates a regular family watching the movie for the first time. Again, the track doesn’t last past the three-minute mark, which is great because it’s a useless and unfunny addition anyhow.

Moving on to the rest of the supplements, the Casting the Perfect Dummies featurette continues where the first commentary ended, with praise being heaped on all the major cast members for their out-and-out brilliant styles and funny characters. We do get a few audition clips which are worth a look and the interviews are comprehensive if not a little shallow in their content. Fans might get a kick out of this one but there’s nothing really new about any of it. Far too much back-slapping once again.

Dumb and Dangerous: The Making Of Dumb and Dumberer is a fairly lengthy piece on some of the issues involved in shooting. It’s a much slicker little production featuring interviews with Troy Miller among others, behind the scenes shots and clips from the film all mixed together. Some of it is quite funny, particularly the shots of Derek Richardson having his pants ripped and burnt by the director.

Dumb & Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd
The Lost & Found section contains some deleted and alternate scenes. In the “Dumb” section there are five alternate or deleted scenes, consisting of a different credit sequence, an alternate bus chase, a longer version of Harry’s fantasy scene and a couple of scenes cut from the theatrical release. You can hear a commentary from Troy Miller on each of them as he explains what went on with each scene. Well worth a look. In the “Dumberer” section there’s a long featurette which is actually funnier than the movie itself. Featuring some great interviews with the younger members of the cast as well as a heap of outtakes (some of which are in the end credit sequence as well), this piece is great to watch as we see that this terrible film was still quite fun to produce.

Rounding out the collection is the theatrical trailer for the film as well the shorter teaser version. In all there’s a lot to dislike about this extras package, particularly the cheap and nasty couple of audio commentaries that make it sound as if they’re full length pieces on the back cover, yet there is some value in a couple of the featurettes and the alternate scenes. Fans will tend to go through these extras pretty quickly but most of them are a welcome addition to the disc.

Overall
This one was bound for rental shelves across the world but someone thought it wise to crucify it in cinemas first. What a shame, as there’s definitely no way this was worth the price of a cinema ticket. I’d even go as far as saying it’s not really worth the price of a purchase, though for some a rental might not be entirely out of the question. At least the disc gives you a little more, particularly with the impressive transfer and a few interesting extras to keep you entertained.


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