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Dumb And Dumberer:
When Harry Met Lloyd

cast: Eric Christian Olsen, Derek Richardson, Rachel Nichols, Eugene Levy, and Cheri Oteri

director: Troy Miller

85 minutes (12) 2003 EV VHS rental
Also available to rent on DVD

RATING: 5/10
reviewed by Richard Bowden
Perhaps one shouldn't grumble too much at Troy Miller's follow up to the original Dumb And Dumber (1994), as it is precisely what it says on the title. Almost a decade down the line since audiences were first introduced to the stupidities of Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne, the new film is sadly without benefit of the original stars Jim Carey and Jeff Daniels - who by this time presumably saw what was coming, and preferred to stick with better things. So Miller took the next best step of making the second instalment a prequel, in which we get to see what happens when the loveable lunkheads first met back in 1986.
   The plot, such as it is, concerns the activities of the corrupt Principal of their High School and his eventual apprehension, partly through the investigative skills of Jessica (Rachel Nichols) a reporter on the school paper, as well as through the blunderings of the dumb duo. In fact the plot barely functions as more than something on which to hang the goonish activities of the two unlikely lads as they discover each other's unique intellectual charms, then meekly compete for the supposed affections of Jessica, and argue with each other. The Principal's current financial scam, intended to secure lucrative funding, is through the establishment of a special needs class of which Lloyd and Harry naturally are founder members. Outside of the gauche romance elements, much of the film is focused on the activities of this class as the various misfits are recruited by our two lads, then end up preparing a float for the procession that climaxes the film.
   In the hands of the Farrellys, Dumb And Dumberer might have made for an intriguing project, as those auteurs are often able to inject a degree of engagement into the most outrageous scenario. The inclusion here of the 'special needs' class recalls the other directors' humorous but sympathetic treatment of the handicapped. Miller, unfortunately, has none of the Farrellys' abilities to regenerate tired and questionable stereotypes. Despite the likeable gormlessness of Harry (Derek Richardson) and Lloyd (Eric Christian Olsen) in the main roles, his film mostly falls flat, with most of the humour either being too limp or too predictable to make much of an impact.
   Having said that, there are one or two moments that sparkle amongst the dross. Principal Collins' (Eugene Levy) early appearance, for instance - equipped with a Saddam-type moustache and haircut, the bumbling crook is at one point aptly framed against a poster background of Asian minarets. Such subtle, visual comedy is rare in a film the main highlight of which otherwise is the unexpected lesbian kiss by the delectable Jessica - which, for a brief moment, introduces a sensibility miles away from the childishness of the main action. By the final credits, which feature the increasingly tired scattering of outtakes, one is left with the feeling that these are considerably more 'spontaneous' than the film from which they spring. If nothing else, Dumb And Dumberer sadly proves its own maxim, that "there's nothing more American than doing nothing and getting away with it."

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