Aspen Times Weekly: ‘Dumb and Dumber’: An Appraisal
November 28, 2014
Like it or not, Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne are Aspen's most active ambassadors.
The pair, played by Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels in 1994's "Dumb and Dumber" – and now, in a long overdue (or long gone-stale, depending on your level of fandom) sequel – have over the past 20 years left Aspen's most indelible impression on popular culture.
John Denver may have a more legitimate claim to Aspen, but the brain cell-melting slapstick and idiocy of "Dumb and Dumber" and its plot following the odyssey of Lloyd and Harry to a glitzy Hollywood version of our ski town – again, like it or not – is most non-Aspenites' pop culture touchstone for Aspen.
Any local who's had a visitor come to town, under the age of 50 or so, has heard them attempt to recite Lloyd's iconic monologue: "Someplace warm, a place where the beer flows like wine, where beautiful women instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano. I'm talking about a little place called Assspen." Every Halloween and Highlands closing day, you can count on spotting at least one Lloyd and Harry duo – usually in the perrywinkle and creamsicle tuxedoes.
A few weeks ago, a young band from Nashville playing at Belly Up Aspen peppered the crowd with "Dumb and Dumber" quotes between songs ("Where the beer flows like wine – bet you've never heard that one before!" "Big Gulps, huh?") and I thought about how many artists I've seen recite "Dumb and Dumber" bits from that stage over the years. The folk-punk band Deer Tick – who hail, like Lloyd and Harry, from Rhode Island – always use high-volume clips of dialogue from the film as their walk-out music here. Simon Posford, of the British psychedelic band Shpongle, told me a few years back that he'd wanted to come here ever since seeing "Dumb and Dumber," and knew little about Aspen other than what he gleaned in it. Jeff Daniels himself, playing a surprisingly good solo acoustic show here in 2010, sang about the movie and wryly dropped a few quotes. And so on.
Never mind that "Dumb and Dumber" wasn't actually filmed here, but in Breckenridge, due to Pitkin County's onerous film permitting process. It's our calling card to the masses. "Aspen Extreme" did film here, but how often do you hear a Dexter Rutecki impression around town these days?
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Aspen doesn't figure into the new sequel – the occasion for this appraisal – other than glancingly in a fantasy sequence where Lloyd picks a rat out of a trash can with his teeth while wearing a single ski (yeah, it hasn't gotten any more highbrow than the original).
The belated sequel, "Dumb and Dumber To," reunites Carrey and Daniels with writer-directors Peter and Bobby Farrelly, who began their dominant 1990s run in absurd screen comedy with "Dumb and Dumber" and continued it with "Kingpin" and "There's Something About Mary."
The sequel hits many of the same beats as the original, both plot-wise and joke-wise. The stand-in for Aspen is a fictionalized TED Conference, where Lloyd and Harry are fish out of water among the brainy tech set, just as they were fish out of water in the well-to-do ski resort crowd. The plot takes them on another cross-country road trip, with another important delivery to make, which leads them to fall into another diabolical plot. The road trip, this time, is inspired by their search for Harry's long-lost daughter (he's her "biographical father"). The gross-out gags, poop and fart jokes, and Carrey's inspired physical comedy and rubberface schtick, are all in place, along with Lloyd and Harry's beleaguered blind neighbor, Billy, a brief cameo by their van decorated as a dog, and some other smirk-worthy callbacks to the original. It's familiar territory — and maybe past its expiration date — but it's a fun romp for fans with winning supporting turns by Rob Riggle and Kathleen Turner.
Oddly, it didn't open at the Isis in Aspen, so for now you'll have to grab a friend, hop on your scooter, and road trip it down to Movieland in El Jebel to see "Dumb and Dumber To."
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