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Dustin's Review

Dumb and Dumberer:
When Harry Met Lloyd (2003)

1 Stars

Directed by Troy Miller
Cast: Eric Christian Olsen, Derek Richardson, Rachel Nichols, Eugene Levy, Cheri Oteri, Mimi Rogers, Luis Guzman, Josh Braaten, Michelle Krusiec, Elden Henson, Shia LaBeouf, William Scott Lee, Teal Redmann, Bob Saget, Julia Duffy, Lin Shaye, Brian Posehn
2003 – 83 minutes
Rated: Rated PG-13 (for crude and sex-related humor, and language).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman, June 16, 2003.

The initial pitch for "Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd" might have sounded like an interesting idea. Without the participation of Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels, the original stars of 1994's "Dumb and Dumber," the sequel would actually be a prequel, chronicling how the world's dumbest pair of friends first met back in their high school days, circa 1986. Under the unwatchful helm of writer-director Troy Miller and co-screenwriter Robert Brenner, however, the results are less than admirable and almost completely devoid of any comedic inspiration. When all is said and done, "Dumb and Dumberer" is nothing more than a cheap-looking, desperate attempt by New Line Cinema to ruthlessly suck the pockets dry of every fan of its infinitely superior predecessor.

The premise is every bit as dim-witted as its lead characters, Lloyd Christmas (Eric Christian Olsen) and Harry Dunne (Derek Richardson). After literally knocking into each other, Lloyd and Harry meet on the first day of the new school year and, with their intelligence (or lack thereof) equaling each other's, they become quick comrades. They are instantly elected into a year-long "Special Needs" class headed by Principal Collins (Eugene Levy) and his daffy girlfriend, school lunchlady Ms. Heller (Cheri Oteri), and soon have enrolled a rag-tag group of lazy teen misfits to join them. What Harry and Lloyd fail to realize, and lovely school reporter Jessica Matthews (Rachel Nichols) suspects, is that their new class is nothing more than a scam by Principal Collins and Ms. Heller to swindle money from a charity fundraiser.

"Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd" is asinine, lame, and pointless. Its scope is minuscule, its plot is inconsequential fluff (even by the standards of a low-brow teen comedy), and its idea of sparkling comedy is to show Harry and Lloyd playing a game of tag in a convenience store, much to the annoyance of the fed-up clerk. Harry and Lloyd may be total lunkheads, but the humor that was elicited from this very fact in the original "Dumb and Dumber" was clever, smart, and genuinely funny. Meanwhile, "Dumb and Dumberer" reaches for the lowest-common-denominator at every turn. Unlike comedy kings Bobby and Peter Farrelly, director Troy Miller has no idea how to adequately set up a joke and milk it for all its worth. In all fairness, there's no good material to milk even if he could.

Even the film's portrayal of the 1980's is all wrong, with a soundtrack that features far more current song selections than those from the decade it is actually set in. The production design by Paul Huggins and costumes by Susanna Puisto are uninspired, at best. And the chipped front tooth that Lloyd sports is laughably fake, appearing as if a black marker was sloppily run over it before every scene. For a big-screen venture, "Dumb and Dumberer" too often feels like a movie made by middle-schoolers with a budget to meet their weekly allowances.

By comparison, the cast is eclectic and energetic—two adjectives a viewer is sure not to use while describing anything else about this failure of a movie. As Harry and Lloyd, newcomer Derek Richardson and Eric Christian Olsen (2001's "Not Another Teen Movie") so closely resemble their famed older counterparts, Jeff Daniels and Jim Carrey, it often seems as if the original actors were transported back in time. Richardson and Olsen keep up surprisingly high spirits as they wade through scene after aimless scene. Rachel Nichols (2000's "Autumn in New York") also shows some vivacious spark as the object of Harry and Lloyd's affections, Jessica Matthews.

As the nefarious Principal Collins, the participation of Eugene Levy (2003's "A Mighty Wind") is mindboggling. Now that he is a hot commodity due to the "American Pie" series, Levy certainly couldn't have been so hard-up for work as to have been forced into such a dreary role, but here is. Cheri Oteri (2000's "Scary Movie") has slightly more to do as Ms. Heller, bringing her usual offbeat attributes to a one-dimensional part. And as the other "Special Needs" students, Elden Henson (2001's "O"), Shia LaBeouf (2003's "Holes"), Michelle Krusiec (2002's "Sweet Home Alabama"), and Josh Braaten show signs that they are certainly more capable than what is demanded of them here.

Whereas "Dumb and Dumber" was not only a well-written "stupid" comedy, it was also kind of sweet in its scenes with love interest Lauren Holly. "Dumb and Dumberer" is just plain moronic, holding its audience in contempt and expecting them to be as brain-deficient as Harry and Lloyd by not realizing a bad movie when they see one. Luckily, at only 83 minutes, it's over before it really has a chance to become unbearable. That is about the biggest compliment that could possibly be paid to "Dumb and Dumberer." At least they got the title right.
© 2003 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman