I don’t know what it is that makes men enjoy stupid comedies so much. Maybe it is our inner bully, lashing out at the weaknesses of those around us, and thus proving our superiority. Maybe it’s because it’s such a relaxing break from the stress of our busy working lives. Maybe it is because laughing at idiots makes us feel better about our own questionable level of intelligence. Whatever it is, it is clear that laughing at the ignorance of others is a basic male trait. There is a point, however, when the subject of o…r mirth can become so simple, so unbelievably stupid, that the tables turn from riotous laughter to groans of pain and embarrassment. The line is a thin one, but it is distinct.
Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd doesn’t just cross that line, it races past it on the way to pointless oblivion. This is a film that truly lives up to its name. What made the original film so funny was watching the interaction between the sublime ignorance of the two main characters and the relative normalcy of the world around them. Ideally, Harry and Lloyd should be the only two stupid people in their circle of influence. In this film, however, virtually every character on the screen is either dumb, or even dumber…er. Without this contrast, the film becomes a close-up look at a world filled with ignorance, and the “relative stupidity” aspect of the story is gone.
Another good title for this film might have been, Dude, Where’s My Casting Director? The script is actually not half bad. There are quite a few big jokes in the film that would have been very effective in the hands of more seasoned comic actors. Unfortunately, the actors in this film, while surprisingly loveable, are missing one crucial ingredient; comic timing. There is simply no comic timing present with any of the actors in the film (save the always funny Saturday Night Live alum Cheri Oteri). Even Eugene Levy seems off his game in this film, though I suspect that his only real mistake was trusting the vision of the director.
The bottom line is, nothing can beat the original. Sure, there are a few laughs here and there, but viewers should not have to work so hard to find them.
While this is certainly not the best soundtrack that I have ever heard, it’s a pretty decent offering for a comedy. The Dolby Digital 5.1 track makes itself known just enough to be entertaining, while not drawing attention away from the activities on the screen. There also is some excellent use of panning across the front-of-house throughout the film that really helps to bring the action alive, adding to the fun, cartoony feel of the film. Likewise, the musical numbers sound quite respectable. While they lack some low-end punch, the songs’ clarity shines through nicely.
As I mentioned before, the track is pretty light on the low-end. While everything can be clearly heard, the extra punch that many discerning viewers have come to expect from DVD is not present. Also, I was disappointed to hear so little sound coming from the rear speakers. As this is a comedy title, however, these are not major problems.
New Line has done a fine job with the video presentation on this title. This is a clean transfer, free from blemishes, dust, scratches, and other pesky film defects. Likewise, the black levels are deep, and colors look good, with nice saturation. This is a new film, and it shows.
Of course, almost nothing is perfect. While the transfer is great, some problems exist with regards to the original filming. Most notably, there are some continuity problems when it comes to light levels. In the “When Harry Met Lloyd” scene, the intensity of the sunlight varies wildly from shot to shot. While I can certainly understand the difficulties that come with shooting exteriors, I also understand the role of the modern digital grading department. These issues could have been erased completely with a short trip to digital, where light levels could have easily been made uniform.
For a film that garnered average receipts at the box office, there are quite a few imaginative extras included on this disc. Ironically, the biggest extra is the arrogantly-titled Casting the Perfect Dummies segment, which covers the casting process of most of the actors, but focuses specifically on that of Harry and Lloyd. Cast and crew interviews are included here, as well as those always-enjoyable audition tapes.
Dumb and Dangerous: the Making of Dumb and Dumberer is essentially a promotional piece for the film, as is the Outtakes package. Both have some entertaining bits mixed in, but are mostly filler, and only mildly amusing.
The most inventive extras are oddly buried within the Setup menu. On the audio screen, viewers may notice that in addition to the two English options, a Scottish language option is available to them as well. This little extra plays the first 1:30 of the film complete with a poorly dubbed Scottish accent, a-la Austin Powers‘s Fat Bastard. Similarly, after a short trip to the video screen, viewers can pick from the Widescreen cut of the film, Extended Movie Mode, Jiffy Mode and Pillow Mode. Extended Mode runs the first minute of the film in super slo-mo, Jiffy Mode plays the entire film in just over a minute, and Pillow Mode plays the first 40-seconds of the film on it’s side, to aid in reclined viewing. These are all very strange options, and are basically useless, but I will certainly give the DVD producers some credit for being imaginative and having fun.
Also included on the disc is some DVD-ROM content, no less than three feature length commentaries, an assortment of trailers for this film and other related releases, and nine deleted or alternate scenes, complete with an optional director’s commentary. All told, this is a pretty full disc, with lots of quality extras for viewers to enjoy.
This is one of those cases of a bad film getting the royal treatment on DVD. While I am certainly able to recognize the hard work that went into this disc, the final onus always rests with the film itself. Filmmaking is the business of creating art through science. No matter how many tricks the studio may be able to pull off, if the film is a rotten egg, no amount of spice can cover up the stench.
Special Features List
- 3 audio commentary tracks
- Bloopers and outtakes
- 9 deleted scenes with optional commentary
- “Casting the Perfect Dummies” documentary
- Making of documentary, “Dumb and Dangerous”
- DVD-ROM: Script-to-screen viewing mode, 1986 hair salon studio activity