The ultimate pursuit of humanity has become an endless journey of discovery, of definition, of discerning what the laws are that govern the universe. Though our aim is to specify all that we encounter, at the source of every innovation is chance alone. So, with that in mind, in the absence of design or creation, what do we have left? Sheer dumb luck. Anyways, let’s talk about Lloyd and Harry! After all, this year marks the 25th anniversary of our iconic duo’s cross-country road trip from Providence, Rhode Island, to Aspen, Colorado, in 1994’s Dumb and Dumber.
I wondered as I downloaded the movie file onto my Xbox, if the slapstick flick would hold true to my memory, or if upon revisiting, be cast into a library that I’ve simply outgrown (I was at the ripe age of six when it hit theaters to be fair). The 90’s were a different time for comedies: less CG, more physical humor, loads of sexual innuendos, at least one spit take per film, and Jim Carrey. Ah yes, Jim Carrey. Before Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Number 23, or The Majestic, Carrey reigned supreme as comedy king with support from his flatulating (and sometimes ventriloquist) anus. Had I too moved on from pet detective work with Ace Ventura to landing with Man on the Moon? Lloyd’s opening scene as a woman-leering limo driver proved that he may have been downright dumb, but an unwittingly witty kind of dumb. Six-year-old me squealed at the overdramatic gestures, whereas thirty-one-year-old me genuinely guffawed at the smartly written dialogue for a total buffoon. Suffice it to say, the movie has aged well (or perhaps, I haven’t matured quite as much as I thought).
What does every nincompoop need? An equally dimwitted partner in crime, of course! In comes wiry haired, pooch-promenading Harry, with costume and van to match, brought to fruition by actor Jeff Daniels. While not strictly known as a comedian, Daniels brings Harry to life at every turn, right down to his ever-gaping and misshapen mouth movements that are borderline cringey but moreover endearing. In fact, regardless of their IQ’s, Lloyd and Harry are as kind hearted as they are dumb, and impossible not to love. Despite their dead-end jobs, serious cash flow problem, and the lack of love lives, the pair have a wholesome dream of one day opening a pet store together, “Got Worms.” It’s important to have goals, am I right?
So, we have our award-winning leads, but we need a little intrigue to act as the vehicle that brings us on this ride. Love interest? Check. Mystery? Check. Antagonist(s)? Check. What more could we ask for? Oh, I know. ROAD TRIP! Quick break down: Lloyd meets Mary Swanson, falls head over heels at first sight, but she’s leaving the state. What’s this? She forgets a briefcase at the airport? What’s more, two hired gunmen are meant to pick it up as ransom money? Of course. Lloyd intercepts and decides to drive to Aspen and hand deliver the goods in an effort to win over Mary. Herein lies the arch of our tale that brings us to what it’s really all about; Lloyd and Harry live in a realm just beyond the reach of reason, where accountability does not exist, and the laws of nature lay dormant. We can call this realm a suspension of rationality.
For multiple reasons, it would be ironic to say that Lloyd and Harry are faced with a series of unfortunate events, mainly due to the fact that whatever’s thrown at them is ultimately rendered neutral.This notion is what keeps you laughing as you innately understand that, in the end, the pair is going to be fine. As the viewer, we have an omniscient perspective, and we grasp the potential danger the fellas consistently find themselves in, from near poisoning to being shot execution style, and all that falls in between, though Lloyd and Harry deflect it all by accident. The only damage that seems to stick is the damage they inflict on one another. After finally reaching Aspen, a trail of police, wounded truckers, and one dead body behind them, our best buds turn on one another over Mary Swanson. I’d expect nothing less than playground tactics between Lloyd and Harry, but I have to admit, I will never not find a laxative bit funny (sorry, not sorry Harry).
A metaphysical warp, Dumb and Dumber makes it to its 25th year with the timelessness of a fart joke. Personally, I needed a good laugh and that’s what this movie continues to deliver after over two decades, transcending into the era of meme humor and emoji innuendos. Absurdity has been, and always will be relevant. Still a source of quotable content, couples Halloween costume inspiration and well-deserved chuckles, Lloyd and Harry have become immortalized as pillars of comedy. Though they survive based on sheer dumb luck, the success of the movie is due to intelligent handling on all fronts, providing audiences with what they need to escape every so often into a world of levity. Here’s to you Dumb and Dumber, may the next 25 years be full of chipped teeth, bowl cuts, and dog-shaped vans!
A Beacon transplant having moved to town a few years ago. With a background in photography, literature, and a fondness of nature she does well in keeping busy in this bustling little community.