The purpose of a comedy is to make you laugh, and there is a moment in "Dumb and Dumber" that made me laugh so loudly I embarrassed myself. I just couldn't stop. It's the moment involving the kid who gets the parakeet. But because I know that the first sentence of this review is likely to be lifted out and reprinted in an ad, I hasten to add that I did not laugh as loudly again, or very often. It's just as well. If the whole movie had been as funny as that moment, I would have required hospitalization.
The movie is more silliness from Jim Carrey, who is beginning to grow on me. It's strange. His mannerisms, instead of becoming more wearisome from film to film, grow more endearing. I hated him in "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective," enjoyed him in "The Mask," and felt positively fond of him here. He plays a limousine driver whose roommate (Jeff Daniels) runs a dog-grooming service, although business is bad for both of them and they live in a dump. (At one point a gangster suggests trashing their apartment, and decides they wouldn't notice it.) As the movie opens, Carrey is driving a beautiful but troubled young woman (Lauren Holly) to the airport. He has fallen instantly in love with her. When he notices that she has left a briefcase on the terminal floor, he races into the building and snatches it - thus foiling a kidnap ransom payment. Trying to chase after her onto a flight to Aspen, he has a nasty accident that is the movie's second big laugh, although not nearly so big as the parakeet.
After developments that will be familiar to students of sitcom and other formula comedy, Carrey and Daniels find themselves heading west in their dogmobile (a van that looks like a shaggy dog).
They intend to drive to Aspen, find the woman, and return the briefcase. Along the way they have the usual obligatory run-in with some tough guys in a diner, are pulled over by the usual cop, and are chased by gangsters, etc., etc.
The cop gets a bad surprise when he tests what he thinks is an open bottle of beer, but that gag misfires because its final shot is just plain not funny. That happens several times in "Dumb and Dumber": The movie sets up a potentially good joke (like the one involving a megadose of laxative) and then doesn't know how to pay it off.
The plot is lame, but that doesn't matter, because "Dumb and Dumber" is essentially pitched at the level of an "Airplane!"-style movie, with rapid-fire sight gags. Some of them work, like the karate fight that ends with a guy getting his heart handed to him in a doggie bag. Some of them don't, like a curious scene where Carrey is hugging a girl and lifts the back of her skirt for no apparent reason: It seems creepy.
For Jeff Daniels, the role is a departure from his usual deadpan comedy roles and straight drama. He fits right in. The relationship between the two guys creates a lot of the fun, as they discuss their grim lifestyle and their bizarre plans to improve it.
The elements are here for a better movie, and Jim Carrey, I am now convinced, is a true original. In "The Mask," he had the screenplay and production to back him up. Here, the filmmaking is more uncertain.
Australian electronic duo Empire of the Sun said in an interview last year that they had a "treatment" written for a film for their most recent album, "Ice on the Dune," and were just "waiting for that person with a sackful of money to come along and pay for it." While that money-sacked paladin has yet to appear, just five days after the 2013 article came out, the Farrelly brothers tweeted that the band, comprised of Luke Steele and Nick Littlemore, would be record the soundtrack for "Dumb and Dumber To."
A curious combination that promises one the catchiest soundtracks to what could be the most quotable movie of 2014, the band is now in full swing, writing away to the stupid antics of Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne.
“We’re a couple months into it, so we’ve got a good bit of content," Steele, Empire of the Sun vocalist, guitarist and all-around songwriter, told The Huffington Post. "It’s like we’re sculptors chiseling into the film. You’re taking off the fat, and just sort of exploring with your guitar. Eventually you have to build a house somewhere.”
As Steele noted, the band recently had the opportunity to spend some time with Jim Carrey and the rest of the cast (funny enough, being a star himself, Steele said he found himself short of words in Carrey's presence). It wasn't the A-list Hollywood talent, however, that spurred Empire of the Sun to accept the Farrelly brothers' offer to make a move into the movie business. Rather, as Steele said, it was that "film is the most powerful medium."
"It's really the jackpot," he said. "We both pump out a lot of different music that land on different platforms and different areas of color. It doesn’t always work for a record. A record has to follow a kind of thread; has to be in the same family. I’ve just got hundreds of ideas for songs and just want to bring them to life.”
Steele explained the importance the soundtrack holds in film, adding a layer that is rarely recognized for its importance outside of musical films. “The music lubricates the whole scene," Steele said. "It’s like when you go out on a first date, you wish could put some chords behind it. The music would really help."
In describing the difference between approaching this soundtrack as opposed to writing a studio album, Steele said how it is not about writing down what is on his mind, but being able to interpret a character's mind and their surrounding environment. Excited by this challenge, the band is taking things one step at a time, waiting to see the outcome and its reception before deciding to continue their involvement in scoring film. Thinking about how the film will undoubtedly be riddled with outrageously idiotic jokes, I asked, quite stupidly, whether this required them to "write funny."
"I’ve actually got a big pair of shoes in the studio," Steele joked. "There’s a real giant mouse on the computer and a red nose in place of the Apple sign."
While the band has no plans, as of now, to unveil any b-sides or other new content in the near future, they plan to release a few more singles in their push of "Ice on the Dune." Discussing the expectation of bands to constantly push out music, Steele said record companies have conceived this perfect evolution where they get handed a single and album whenever they want it, churning pop bands into products. Empire of the Sun does not fit into this matrix.
“I think Empire is the most unconventional, unpredictable, sort of focused slash unfocused band in the world," Steele said. "Everything kind of works in this Wonka-like paradox time frame. It’s funny, such a strange collection of minds where the one has to have a heartbeat at 122 while the other is slightly sad. It’s like it’s sunny in California and raining in New York, and it will work. It takes a mashup of different ingredients. Which is hard sometimes because sometimes you want to plan. The last record took a lot longer than we wanted it to. Like, we handed in our record two years late. We’re the band that a record company loves to hate.”
The band also has a slew of forthcoming shows on the docket, including a performance at the Bud Light Hotel Dallas and festivals like Coachella. "We just booked some shows in Korea, and some more around Asia," Steele said. "Just getting all around the world. And we’ve got lots of American shows. We always dreamed of coming here as kids. Australia always just seemed so far away from everything."
Asked how it is possible for them to keep on top of such a busy schedule, Steele said with a chuckle: "You know, I will have four coffees, three red bulls and a cold shower, and I’m stalling falling asleep on the couch. Caffeine and prayer. There’s an album title right there."