When my onetime neighbor Norman Cousins, editor of Saturday Review, was ill, he watched Three Stooges movies non-stop. He subscribed to the theory that laughter is the best medicine.
Was he right? I’m no doctor, but with coronavirus raging around us, we could certainly use a dose of giggles and guffaws about now.
That why I re-watched that silly comedy “Dumb and Dumber” this week. You can find it on various streaming video TV channels.
As you’ll recall, “Dumb and Dumber” (1994) stars Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels as two goofy friends who are too stupid for their own good.
Jim Carrey has faded a bit from the Hollywood A-list, but he was brilliantly funny in “Ace Ventura, Pet Detective,” “The Mask,” and “The Truman Show,” to name a few of his hit movies. He got his start on TV’s “In Living Color,” where he played such outlandish characters as finger-flaming Fire Marshall Bill.
Jeff Daniels is a more serious actor when not co-starring with Carrey. His performance was masterful in Aaron Sorkin’s TV mini-series, “The News Room.” Not to mention his appearances in such dramas as “The House on Carroll Street,” “Terms of Endearment,” and “The Squid and the Whale.” But I first came across him in a 1986 slapstick comedy called “Something Wild.”
Footnote: In “Dumb and Dumber,” Lloyd (Carrey) pulls a scam that he says he saw in a movie. That movie was “Something Wild” and the guy who pulled the scam was Jeff Daniels.
“Dumb and Dumber” is kind of a road trip comedy. When a woman leaves her briefcase at an airport terminal, a limo driver and his buddy (Carrey and Daniels) set off to Aspen, Colo., to return it. Good hearts, weak brains. Needless to say, it leads to a series of mishaps, screwups and non-stop knee-slapping misadventures.
Although Carrey and Daniels did a lot of ad libbing, the original script was written by legendary filmmaker John Hughes (“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” “Planes, Trains & Automobiles,” “National Lampoon’s Vacation,” “The Breakfast Club,” etc.), but his name doesn’t appear in the credits.
Back in the ‘90s, Jim Carrey was hot off “Ace Ventura,” so he commanded a salary of $7 million. Not so popular at the time, Jeff Daniels did his role for a measly $50,000.
The characters Harry and Lloyd were so named as a tribute to silent comedian Harold Lloyd.
How dumb are they?
Lloyd: “Why you going to the airport? Flying somewhere?”
Mary: “How’d you guess?”
Lloyd: “I saw your luggage. Then when I noticed the airline ticket, I put 2 and 2 together.”
Mary was played by Lauren Holly. After the movie was completed, Jim Carrey married her. A dumb move, apparently. The marriage only lasted a year.
The scene where Harry tells Lloyd to throw salt over his shoulder was directly cribbed from a 1933 Three Stooges short called “Beer and Pretzels.”
“Dumb and Dumber” was the directing debut of Peter and Bobby Farrelly (“Kingpin,” “There’s Something About Mary,” and Peter directed “Green Book”). Appropriately enough, the brothers went on to direct “The Three Stooges” (2012).
Also they returned to the scene of the crime, directing a not-as-great sequel called “Dumb and Dumber To” (2014).
Will you like “Dumb and Dumber”?
You’d have to be dumb not to.
As one moviegoer says, “This movie goes from joke to joke constantly and never misses a beat. I could not stop laughing the first time I saw it, and the 10th time I saw it, and the 100th time I saw it. This movie never gets old.”
Another moviegoer explains, “This is a stupid movie, but what some people don’t understand is that is what it is supposed to be!”
And still another moviegoer adds, “This is not a masterpiece. This is not an Academy Award-winning film, not a film of strategic plots, this is as sophomoric as it gets — and that’s fine with me. Sometimes, ya gotta escape. This’ll do it.”