Dumb and Dumber To

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DIR: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly • WRI: Sean Anders, John Morris • PRO: Riza Aziz, Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly, Joey McFarland, Bradley Thomas • DOP: Matthew F. Leonetti • ED: Steven Rasch • DES: Aaron Osborne • MUS: Empire of the Sun • CAST: Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels, Rob Riggle, Laurie Holden

Is making a great comedy film by design, alchemy or accident? It sure would help if a great script was written but in an era where American comedians are frequently entrusted with finding the funny on the day through the variable returns of improv, the recipe for success seems loose and elusive. Resulting in some sporadically funny films in recent times but precious few ‘start to finish’ classics.

Back at their zeitgeist-setting zenith, the Farrelly Brothers believed in applying as many funny bones and brains to the process as possible. Table readings with writers, performers and finally the cast refined crude material into sparkling scatological humour that even high-brow critics celebrated for a brief shining moment. The process worked brilliantly for a while. However, it seems keeping your finger on the comedic pulse across decades is extremely difficult.

Let’s be clear – moments of this sequel rival and even trump the daft ingenuity of the first film. Yet the moments are lonely and sit alone and adrift amid long stretches that just don’t click. Sustaining lunacy is a miracle that the original film succeeded in making look easy. Re-lighting that fire in this case takes a lot of effort. Occasionally this sequel catches fires but in other places the attempted jokes act as fire extinguishers. And a flabby edit allows the audience way too much thinking time and sadly, silence for dud jokes to echo around in.

No fault for effort could ever be laid at the door of Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels. They truly reprise these characters in a manner that makes you think they might have been getting together in the intervening twenty years to dust off Lloyd and Harry at regular intervals. The film opens promisingly with a witty explanation of Lloyd’s dedication to a bit. The next twenty minutes are where the film meanders desperately in search of a plot. The convoluted premise of ‘Harry needing a kidney from a daughter he doesn’t know he has’ is perfectly fine as a framework but it literally takes forever to get on the road. Which is a shame because once the road trip starts, the comedy gears shift into overdrive.

Out on the highways, the comedy comes alive. Getting these guys locked in a car is apparently the key to the entire endeavour. Their games of one-upmanship with Rob Riggle capture that requisite but evasive mood that we fell for the first time. Sadly, a closing section at a computer conference drifts off that sweet spot again. Still, there’s some gold in the mud. One of the funniest things about the sequel is that they pay huge homage to their direct predecessor to the point that they build plot points off minor characters and mere asides in the original. I watch Dumb & Dumber semi-religiously and they were losing me at times.

In all of the kerfuffle, the film that isn’t getting mentioned at all is the black sheep of the ‘trilogy’. Remember When Harry Met Lloyd. NO? No one does but it’s the prequel that nearly neatly bisects the twenty years and though there’s precious little overlap in the Venn diagram of creative talent between that film and this, it was an ominous early warning about the dangers of returning to this ‘lighting in a bottle’.

It’s also odd to me that the film isn’t enlivened by cameos or star turns of any kind. Not that I want the whole project to be overwhelmed but the opposite effect is achieved by the absence of anyone to remotely rival Carrey and Daniels.

Is Dumb and Dumber To worth your two cents? I’m not certain it’s a ‘hire a babysitter/pay for parking/buy popcorn in the cinema’ kind of cinema trip. More a ‘take an afternoon off/sneak into a matinee/smuggle supermarket popcorn’ kind of trip. You might get your money’s worth with the latter method.

Shame. A sharper edit and sharper script could have put an impossible feat within reach.

 

James Phelan

15A (See IFCO for details)
109 minutes.
Dumb and Dumber To
is released 19th December.

Dumb and Dumber To – Official Website

 

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Cinema Review: Kick Ass 2

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DIR/WRI: Jeff Wadlow • PRO: Adam Bohling, Tarquin Pack, Brad Pitt, David Reid • ED: Tim Maurice-Jones DOP: Eddie Hamilton DES: Russell De Rozario • CAST: Chloe Grace Moretz, Jim Carrey, Donald Faison, Clark Duke

Watch enough films and it’s hard not to predict the patterns in their plot, characters and just the general execution. In fact at time they are so goddamn unimaginative, you’ll swear you have already seen them (yeah, I’m looking at you, Identity Theft). But once every so often a movie will come out that provides that fantastically fresh twist on something familar and reminds you why you keep going to the cinema.

 

Kiss Ass was one of those films. It graced the big screen, just as those cheesetastic comic franchises were expelling the last of their death rattles, leaving the zombies and vampires to battle it out for box-office draws. Thoughtful and hilarious, Kick Ass effortlessly tackled all those tired formulas with razor-sharp wit and some of the best anti-heroes seen in a while; Red Mist, Nick Cage & Hit Girl. I’m not saying K.A. reinvented the wheel, but at the very least it pimped out the genre with some uniquely creative hubcaps.

 

Kick Ass 2 is nothing, I repeat NOTHING, like it’s predecessor. The dialogue is clunky, the exposition is lazy, little of importance is learned about these eccentric characters (except perhaps that Hit Girl is becoming a Hit Woman). The jokes are flat and mainly rely on exceptionally low-hanging fruit and the plot seems to be a made up of lazy clichés lifted from arguably better films (notably Watchmen and Spiderman). But what’s worse than everything listed above is that none of K.A.’s trademark irony or witty self-references made it into this sequel, which instead is doused in awkward earnestness.

 

What really gets my goat is that this film appears to take place in a parallel dimension to the original. In 2, Kick Ass himself has his proverbial socks knocked off when he’s invited to chill in his super-buddy’s fairly average basement, bearing in mind this is after he had previously hung out in Big Daddy’s epic war-lair. Also pretty early on in this movie he gets six shades of sh*te knocked out of him by a few thugs – when the last time we saw him, he was going badass on a mafia boss.

 

Look, the list of gripes I have with this film’s script would put the Simpsons‘ Comic-Book guy to shame; and presently I’m only one-third through it; the list, not the film. However even with sharper writing, it was unlikely that Kick Ass 2 was ever going to escape the shadow of its predecessor. In reality, especially when considering tone and theme, K.A.2 is a completely different film – that just so happens to feature the same actors.

 

It’s not all bad though; there’s no way of saying this without horrifying my mum, but the violence is outstanding. Just fantastic. Watching a young girl brutally murder baddies in increasingly inventive ways never gets old. Mother Russia, with her Hulk-like super strength, is one hell of a supervillian, with an honorable mention going to Jim Carrey for his interesting transformation as Colonel Stars and Stripes.

 

Although Kick Ass 2 frequently saunters into silly territory, overall it’s frantic, fun and fast-paced, and I’m not too big to admit to chortling a number of times. Low hanging fruit can still be funny.

Gemma Creagh

Rated 16 (see IFCO website for details) 

102 mins
Kick Ass 2 is released on 16th August 2013

Kick Ass 2 –  Official Website

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I Love You Phillip Morris

I Love You Phillip-Morris

DIR: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa • WRI: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa • PRO: Andrew Lazar, Far Shariat • DOP: Xavier Pérez Grobet • ED: Thomas J. Nordberg • DES: Hugo Luczyc-Wyhowski • CAST: Jim Carrey, Ewan McGregor, Leslie Mann

The absurd and almost unclassifiable I Love You Phillip Morris will sit a little uncomfortably with any audience, for a whole range of reasons, but I challenge anyone not to find it utterly compelling. Imagine a Southern and bluntly sexual cross between The Royal Tenenbaums and Vicar in a Tutu by The Smiths and you’re getting close. Jim Carey plays the fascinating lead character Steven Russell and Ewan McGregor the demure, blonde-haired, blue-eyed Phillip Morris.

Mixing comedy and tragedy is nothing new, but what writer/directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (Bad Santa) have concocted is a dizzyingly fast paced story of hyper camp, criminal, love-bird misfits whose obliviousness to their own ridiculous tragedy is shot in such a bright comedic tone it feels almost cruel to watch. Viewers with even a slight homophobic streak will squirm in their seats and the more enlightened among us may treat it as an opportunity to show how very grown up and comfortable we are in our own sexuality, but either way, it puts our sense of propriety to the test.

Opening with a flawlessly timed scene in which Steven is told he was adopted, the film dives right in to a real life story of near death experiences, jailhouse romance, fraud and fakery that defies belief. Even with our narrator’s plaintive assurance ‘This really happened.. It really did’ this is one of the most incredible real life stories you are ever likely to encounter and all the way through, as in Jim Carey’s brilliant performance in Man On The Moon, you might suspect that there is some meta-trickery going on. The story is in fact based entirely on a true biography but it always stays two steps ahead of its audience with twists no one could possibly predict. You may get lost somewhere amongst all the complex schemes that Steven pulls off but when the film’s unforgettable final hand is dealt you’ll be impressed at the very least.

Audiences will come away from I Love You Phillip Morris with a sense that the film, like its main character, moved too fast to grasp and may be baffled by its blunt absurdity and lack of authorial reflection but my advice is don’t try too hard to define it or to extract some kind of general existential observation from it. Instead, let it carry you away and bemuse you like the life of this troubled chameleon clearly did to his loved ones and his biographers.

Angela Nagle
(See biog here)

Rated 16

I Love You Phillip Morris is released on 17 March 2010

I Love You Phillip Morris – Official Website

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