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On Dec. 16, 1994, Harry and Lloyd greeted U.S. theatergoers. The Hollywood Reporter’s original review of Dumb and Dumber is below.
Steve Martin made his motion picture starring debut in The Jerk and gradually moved on to more sophisticated roles. The white-hot Jim Carrey is doing the reverse, playing one of the titular roles in Dumb and Dumber (it’s hard to guess which) after the relative sophistication of The Mask or even, God help us, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.
It’s a definite step backward from the high concept and high energy of The Mask, although New Line needn’t be worried. This one cost a lot less, and during the Christmas holidays, at least, they can pretty much back up the armored cars to the theater entrances.
Carrey plays limo driver Lloyd Christmas, who along with his best buddy Harry (Jeff Daniels) embarks on a cross-country road trip from New England to Aspen in order to return a briefcase to client Lauren Holly, with whom he had fallen immediately in love. The pair are tailed by a couple of crooks, including ulcer-ridden “Joe Mental” (Mike Starr), since the briefcase contains ransom money.
The plot, of course, is merely an excuse for an endless series of gags, and the percentage of them that score is fairly high. But since the jokes are based over and over on the fact that Lloyd and Harry are really, really dumb, a certain repetitive factor sets in. Carrey is less effective here than he was in his previous roles, in which his wildly charismatic characters were operating in a universe of their own invention. He’s just not as much fun playing dumb as he is acting demented.
Daniels was a good choice as a co-star, since his laconic underplaying is a perfect counterpoint to Carrey, and no one could have matched his energy level, anyway. Here, Daniels is quite appealing and displays a knack of his own for physical comedy. He’s particularly funny in a scene in which his character is dosed with laxatives.
Speaking of which, there’s a high percentage of gross humor in the film, with urination a nearly constant theme. There’s also a bit of cruel humor, such as scenes involving the unfortunate deaths of caged birds and one of the crooks getting poisoned. Presumably, kids will eat it up.
The supporting cast includes Karen Duffy (Duff’ from MTV) and a severely underused Teri Garr. — Frank Scheck
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