By Jack Peat, TLE Editor
“You’ll have to excuse my friend”, says Lloyd after his close companion, the dumb to his dumber, sent a coach of women on a bikini tour back to the nearest town in search of two oil boys. “He’s a little slow”. After weeks spent on the road travelling across America to reunite a client with her briefcase only to be dumped by the wealthy Mary Swanson, have their nest egg removed by the cops and see their hog break down, the duo were finally presented with a bona fide (excuse the pun) lucky break.
“The town is back THAT way”, he says as the bus pulls away, ruing his bad luck. “Don’t worry, we’ll catch our break too” says Harry. “We’ve just got to keep our eyes open”.
As far as closing scenes go, this really takes the biscuit. Like many of the most successful Hollywood comedies over the last few decades – Anchorman, Hangover, Zoolander, American Pie – Dumb and Dumber was wrapped up by a clever scene that is not only funny, but effectively summarises the film in its entirety through a single witticism. Like a good meal, it left you comfortably full. Our hearts wanting more, but our minds telling us that more would be too much.
But in Hollywood, it isn’t over until the fat pockets sing. Bereft of original ideas a sequel – following a prequel that was rated 3.4 out of 10 on IMDb and given 10 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes – was announced featuring the original cast. Much like Anchorman 2, the second Hangover and any of the American Pie spin offs – Band Camp, Naked Mile, Beta House, The Book of Love – it would be a movie that relies on the reputation of an old title to get bums on seats with no thought of continuing the story or developing the theme in a poor attempted re-hash of the original.
It is films like Dumb and Dumber To (even the title gaff is a re-hash) that confirm, to me, that the creative soul of Hollywood has disappeared. Sat nursing a glass of claret on a peaceful Sunday evening I found myself getting worked up every time I saw a brand in shot or had to watch a scene so markedly unimaginative it felt as though the writers had performed a Ctrl C Ctrl P on every generic comedy from the 90s, namely their own.
But it pays to re-work old, successful movies and it costs to be creative. According to Box Office Mojo, four out of the top five top-grossing films in the cinema right now are sequels, with Jurassic World, Terminator Genisys, Magic Mike XXL and Ted 2 raking in the cash. There are 142 movie sequels currently in the works; Zoolander 2, Alan Partridge 2, Alien 5, American Pie 5, Beetlejuice 2, Bill & Ted 3, Dodgeball 2…. For fear of weaping at my desk, I shan’t continue.
Movies made from existing source material is nothing new. Indeed, for as long as centralised movie spots such as Hollywood have existed the search for new ideas has been a treacherous one. Franchises have also existed from the start, but the role of remakes, reboots and sequels has never been so obvious.
And where does the responsibility lie? Well, it’s with us. We pay for sequels, we like familiar things and prefer to sit in Cineworld watching a box office hit than visiting an independent cinema watching original films. It’s time for me to stop watching sequels, regardless of how much I enjoyed the original, and get out more. It’ll do wonders for my blood pressure!