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Dumb & Dumber (1994)

Warner Home Video
Blu-ray Disc Released: 12/9/2008

All Ratings out of
Video: 1/2
Audio: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 1/12/2009

Prior to 1994, Jim Carrey was simply a struggling actor trying to make ends meet. He'd had small roles in several films, and had starred in a short-lived TV series, The Duck Factory. His break came in 1990, when he became one of the featured players on the Fox sketch-comedy show In Living Color. But, it was 1994 which changed Carrey's life. In February of that year, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective was released and became a hit. July saw the release of the smash, The Mask. And in December, Carrey scored his biggest hit of the year, Dumb & Dumber.

Dumb & Dumber tells the story of best friends Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey) and Harry Dunne (Jeff Daniels). Lloyd works as a limo driver, while Harry is a dog groomer. One day, Lloyd takes Mary Swanson (Lauren Holly) to the airport, and is immediately smitten with her. When he sees her walk away from her briefcase in the terminal, Lloyd grabs it and races to catch up with her, but he can't. What he doesn't know is that she left the bag there on purpose as a ransom, which was to be retrieved by Joe (Mike Starr) and Shay (Karen Duffy). Lloyd loses his job (for abandoning his limo) and returns home to find that Harry has gotten fired as well. As they are hopeless and broke, Lloyd suggests that they follow Mary to Aspen to return the briefcase. Having nothing to lose, Harry agrees, and the two take off cross-country from Rhode Island to Colorado. Along the way, they share some odd adventures and constantly bicker. But, they are being followed by Joe and Shay, who are convinced that Harry and Lloyd are professional assassins.

Obviously, 1994 was a breakout year for Carrey and it's rare for an actor to have three hit films in one year. But, not only did he prove himself to be very funny (and a box-office commodity), but one of Hollywood's craziest comedians as well. He was able to show his lack of inhibition in Ace Ventura and The Mask, but when we see Carrey with his chipped tooth (he removed a pre-existing cap) at the beginning of the film, it's clear that he's going for broke here.

But, Carrey isn't the only revelation in Dumb & Dumber. Jeff Daniels had primarily been known for serious dramatic roles, such as those in Terms of Endearment, Hearburn, and Gettysburg. But, like Carrey, he experienced a change in 1994. First, he appeared alongside Keanu Reeves in the action classic Speed. Then, he turned up in Dumb & Dumber, with his wild hair and vacant look. Daniels proved himself may than able to keep up with Carrey and also showed that he wasn't afraid to go for broke. The film also introduced us to Peter and Bobby Farrelly, commonly known as The Farrelly Brothers, who would became a mainstay of American comedy. Despite the fact that their output has been hit or miss, it's hard to knock the duo which gave us this film and There's Something About Mary. (And The Heartbreak Kid. If you haven't seen this movie, I urge you to check it out.)

The fact that Dumb & Dumber did so well at the time of its release, coupled with the notion that it's become a staple of cable TV has made it one of the more ubiquitous comedies of my generation. However, this makes it easy to overlook just how funny this movie is. (And the fact that you need to see the PG-13 version, not one which has been edited for television.) The movie gained a reputation for starting the “gross out” comedy movement, and the isn’t necessarily undeserved, as there are plenty of bodily function jokes. However, the true genius in the comedy here lies in just how stupid Harry and Lloyd are. It’s as if for every situation in the film, The Farrelly’s had this duo do the exact opposite of what anyone else would do. This is funny in and of itself, but they take the joke a step further by having Harry and Lloyd act confident and even indignant about their decisions. While the world sees them as strange morons, they see themselves as bright and sophisticated, and Carrey and Daniels never break character with that.

While Dumb & Dumber didn’t spawn the quotes found in Ace Ventura or The Mask, it’s the most complete and satisfying of Carrey’s 1994 films. The jokes are still funny and from that opening scene where Carrey’s head emerges from a car window, it’s impossible not to love the characters here.

Dumb & Dumber has worms on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Warner Home Video. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 (despite the fact that the box says 1.85:1) and the Disc contains a VC-1 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 20 Mbps. This is an uneven transfer. The image is OK looking at times and it relatively sharp and clear. But, there are also shots which are noticeably grainy and a bit dark. One thing is for sure, the image is quite flat and lacks in detail at times. It simply doesn’t have that Blu-ray look which we’ve come to know. The colors are good and there’s not video noise here. The Disc offers a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 1.7 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. As with the video, the audio is questionable as well. We get decent stereo and bass effects at times, and the in-film music sounds good. However, there is very little surround sound here, and I found myself thinking that the audio was no better than the average Dolby Digital 5.1 track.

The Dumb & Dumber Blu-ray Disc offers several extras. "Still Dumb After All These Years" (19 minutes) features a detailed set of comments from the film's various producers who describe how the project came together, from the selling of the script, to getting the project off of the ground, to the casting. We get comments from many of the cast members, from Jeff Daniels to small roles, like Harland Williams, who discuss the film's production. This contains some good information, but it's difficult to overlook the fact that Carrey and the Farrelly's are absent from this. The Disc contains 12 ADDITIONAL SCENES which run about 34 minutes. One contains comments from Karen Duffy and Charles Rocket, while another has an introduction from Daniels. Most of the scenes are simply filler, with some additional jokes. There are two versions of a similar alternate ending, both of which fall flat. In "The Toilet Scene" (2 minutes) Jeff Daniels shares his memories of shooting the scene where has a bathroom emergency. "Kung Fu Chef" (2 minutes) explores Lloyd's dream sequence, with comments from his opponent, Jesse Borja. "Big Fire Stunt" (2 minutes) looks at the scene where Harry sets himself on fire, with behind-the-scenes footage. "Most Annoying Sound" (2 minutes) has Mike Starr describing what it was like to sit between Carrey and Daniels as they went at each other. The Disc has three TRAILERS for the film and on TV SPOT.

Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long