We all have one or two movies we haven't quite gotten around to yet, even though practically everyone else in the world has; mine include Forrest Gump, Saving Private Ryan, Braveheart, and, until this week, Dumb and Dumber. Wednesday night, I stumbled across that one on Netflix and decided to finally get on the cutting edge of 1994.
Let's be clear: I know the gist of Dumb and Dumber through the quotes I've heard in conversation. My knowledge of the plot was that it involved a road trip, and Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels did funny things, like driving a dog car while singing a song about a mockingbird. I wasn't going in totally blind, but I hadn't seen the entire film. To my benefit, not everything was fresh, but this definitely wasn't a waste of time. I enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed The Big Lebowski and Tommy Boy.
The duds in Dumb and Dumber didn't whiff too hard, but at this point, from what else I'd seen in later movies, they were routine. The laxative trick pulled by Carrey? Eh. (I did appreciate Daniels's futile attempt to wave the stench out the window with a towel.) The pee in the beer bottles was forgettable. Most of the childish arguments between Daniels and Carrey were boring, excluding the cane fight in their suits outside of the gala. Not all of Carrey's slapstick hit, though I don't think even he expected to bat 1.000.
However, there were a hell of a lot of bright spots. Listing them all would defeat the purpose of maybe convincing you to watch (or rewatch) it, but here are a few of my favorite scenes, in no particular order:
Carrey's obviously the more experienced comedian, but Daniels was excellent at being stupid. The scene with the skis—"Both of 'em?"—was perfect.
When Harry Dunne goes on a date with Mary Swanson, the Farrelly Brothers mess with the romantic-comedy montage. It's been done before, but the way Daniels's face drops after Lauren Holly playfully tosses some snow at him is so goddamn funny.
The hot pepper scene was predictable, but the execution made it so much better. Carrey and Daniels react at the 0:45 mark, and the gag keeps going for about 30 seconds. I was smiling by then, but the climax—so to speak—at 1:10, when a convulsing Carrey slams the ketchup and mustard bottles, sending up red and yellow geysers, made me laugh so hard. They impressively held the joke long enough to get a better laugh (out of me, at least) the second time around.
The progressive absurdity of the dream sequence resonated with me for some reason. (Shout out to Carrey's turtleneck, which was probably the style at the time.) The countless nut shots were funny, but Carrey gets to really shine with his noises and movements as he fights everyone in the restaurant. The doggy bag was a cherry on top.
The Big Gulps line is such a throwaway. There isn't even really a joke in it, and yet, it might be the most quotable part of the whole movie. The internet claims that Carrey flexed his ad-libbing skills in a number of scenes—the annoying sound, the "We landed on the moon!" one-liner—but this one was actually confirmed by Peter Farrelly:
One line that was definitely ad-libbed is the Big Gulp line. In fact, the two guys he was talking to weren't even extras, they were just hanging out watching us shoot, and I decided to pull them in. They happened to have Big Gulps, and Jim just ran with it. True story.
There's a lot of chaotic, loud, physical material in Dumb and Dumber, and yet, this non sequitur inexplicably stands out.
So, if you were desperately hanging on to the advice of someone who turned four the year it came out, Dumb and Dumber is absolutely worth your time in 2014. Rotten Tomatoes hasn't been kind to the sequel so far (we like it much better), but these things somehow tend to get better with age.