Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey) is a limousine driver who has just recently singularly failed to chat up an Austrian girl, but that is the story of his life, he can never get anything together, and neither can his best friend and roommate Harry Dunne (Jeff Daniels), who owns a dog grooming service but has spent most of his funds on transforming his van into a large, hairy hound. But then it seems Lloyd has a stroke of luck, as he picks up his next passenger, a rich heiress called Mary Swanson (Lauren Holly) - for him, it is love at first sight, for her, it is bemusement at best, and she seems distracted anyway. On arrival at the airport, he tries to make his feelings plain, but she has other things to think about, mainly leaving a briefcase near the departure lounge...
What a year 1994 was for Jim Carrey, with three blockbusting comedies announcing a new movie star had well and truly arrived. He had been in films before, some of them hits, some of them cult efforts, but it was his turn in the television sketch show In Living Color that had made producers take a chance on him and if anything, Dumb and Dumber was his most successful of the trio. Mind you, it was a pretty good year for his co-star Jeff Daniels too, displaying a heretofore untapped knack with really goofy comedy: he demonstrated his range by appearing alongside Keanu Reeves in action juggernaut Speed the same summer as a far straighter-laced character, but it was this that he would be better remembered for.
Unlike the other Carrey works of this year, it was a buddy movie that he was essaying, and Daniels was professional enough to hold up his side of the performance, likening appearing alongside a big star to his role in Arachnophobia where you had to nail every take because he was governed by what the spider/celebrity was up for or indeed capable of. But audiences did not show up to see him, particularly, he was a bonus in that he carried off the best friend part with such dedication: it was Carrey who they wanted to make them laugh, and the writers and directors here were using him to deliver their own brand of broad humour that would become their trademark in big screen comedy stylings for some years to come.
You could argue that while There's Something About Mary was the Farrelly Brothers' most beloved movie, Dumber and Dumber saw their approach at its most pure, throwing in anything for a laugh yet not coming across as desperate as the confidence they had in their material was genuinely amusing. Not everyone found it funny, as the Jerry Lewis comparisons were tiresomely rolled out with Carrey no matter that Lewis would never have gone to the lengths that Carrey went to here to secure the jokes (you can't imagine him finding much to work with in a scene where he is threatened with rape in a gas station restroom, yet Carrey manages to divine the giggles in what could have crossed a very nasty line). But Carrey was not the sort of comedian you imagine was playing for the critics, or trying to win over the sceptics.
Just as well, as the novelty of his mannerisms and how far he was able to drag a scene to its ultimate effect were extremely successful if you were on his comic wavelength, from the physical humour (early on, negotiating a car's airbag) to the verbal ("We've landed on the moon!") that at once appeared mannered and perfectly natural, in the moment. The plot hardly mattered, a series of sketches much like he had honed on television where all you needed to know was that Lloyd and Harry were very far from being the smartest guys in the room, and the Farrellys leanings towards sentimentality were kept in check when any pathos in Lloyd's patently unrequited love (obvious to all but himself) was undercut by his idiocy. As our heroes drive cross country to the snowy climes of Aspen to return the briefcase, the bad guys are following, and secondary bad guys are met along the way, but really Lloyd and Harry were their own worst enemies, not exactly endearing but maintaining a curious draw to see what they would get up to next. Music by Todd Rundgren.