The Joy of Being Stupid

In Dumb and Dumber, Jim Carrey and his rubber face are shown in top, albeit tortured and contorted, form. This is good news to his legions of fans. However, I'm aware that there are people who don't find Jim Carrey funny; these people should not see Dumb and Dumber, because Jim Carrey is much of the movie. Moreover, Dumb and Dumber is rife with grade school geekisms and childish games of grab-ass. Bill Murray, perhaps, can win over the unconverted with such sophomoric tomfoolery; Carrey, for all his charm, cannot. And admittedly, those who aren't predisposed to find serenely stupid jokes amusing aren't likely to be swayed by the repartee in Dumb and Dumber. So people who do not enjoy goofing should be left at home to sort socks, or whatever it is that they do for amusement.

But for those in the audience who, say, are willing to rearrange their schedule to catch a Three Stooges marathon, Dumb and Dumber will come as a delight. It's graphic in its gleeful, gross-out style. The food, fart and booger jokes add up to an experience not unlike being overrun by a gang of preteen nerds -- or getting in touch with your own inner preteen nerd.

Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey) tells the woman he loves of his dreams for the future. "We have worms," is what he says. He pauses for a beat, she registers shock, and he goes on: "That's what we're going to call it, 'We Have Worms.' We plan to specialize in worm farms, like ant farms." Those not prepared to enjoy humor of that stripe won't be moved by Carrey's delivery -- although his delivery is warm and friendly, like, oh, a trained seal's.

Lloyd shares his dream of selling worm farms with his buddy Harry Dunne (Jeff Daniels, who's delightfully human here -- a folksy, all-American kind of guy with a big butt, and frequently observed butt-crack, who nonetheless looks superfine when he ends up dressed in a powder-blue tuxedo). These idiot roommates already have a fabulous worm farm in their living room that's about the size of a big screen TV, but we don't see much of it. Lloyd and Harry lose their jobs -- and their source of financing for worm entrepreneurship -- early in the story. Lloyd, however, has a plan. And a briefcase, which he picks up in the process of being fired as a limo driver because he lets his emotions get the better of him.

The briefcase comes Lloyd's way when he's sent to ferry Mary Swanson (Lauren Holly) to the airport. He falls madly, with much mugging, in love with his passenger. So when he sees her leave her briefcase in the terminal, he rescues it. This minor, meatheaded act of chivalry has astonishing consequences, because Mary left it behind on purpose: it's full of ransom money.

Unaware that he's interfered with a kidnapping payoff, Lloyd decides to follow Mary to Aspen, return the briefcase and live happily ever after. Roommate Harry is swept into this plan because Lloyd, the cleverer of the two, needs wheels and because he has few options open after spending his life's savings transforming his van into a giant sheep dog (he was in the dog grooming business).

Meanwhile, the kidnappers who were cheated out of their ransom by Lloyd's valiant act are on our heroes' trail, following Lloyd and Harry as the two, traveling in merry oblivion, make other enemies along the way.

At one point in their misadventurous road trip, Harry and Lloyd actually kill someone. The two louts are completely unaware of their part in the death, which raises interesting questions about the nature of culpability and guilt. However, Lloyd's antics in this scene, and throughout the movie, raise more interesting questions about Jim Carrey. What is he, anyway? Clearly, he's not human. Humanoid perhaps, but not human.

It is very likely that all the PR that was released about the making of Mask was only a clever ruse; a real person might have needed all the lauded special effects for that role, but not Jim "Fire Marshal Dave" Carrey. For one thing, humans have connective tissue that binds their skin to their muscles; Carrey has extra skin and his rubber hide is not connected to anything. For another thing, human joints move in limited, prescribed arcs; Carrey is wiggly as a worm. The more important questions raised by Jim Carrey's performance are: is he planning world domination? Just visiting our planet for a lark? Dumped here by a penal mother ship for committing intergalactic misdemeanors?

And why, we might wonder, is Jim Carrey featured in the pages of publications such as Premiere? His kind most often grace the pages of The Weekly World News. And why is he on E! Entertainment Channel? Jim Carrey should be on In Search of ..., with diagrams of the normal human skeleton superimposed over slow-motion footage of his gyrations while Leonard Nimoy provides pompous narration attempting to explain the phenomenon. But until his true nature is discovered, Carrey watchers have only one option: go to the movies and search for clues. Dumber things have been done.

Dumb and Dumber.
Directed by Peter Farrelly. With Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels and Lauren Holly.
Rated PG-13.
106 minutes.

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