Free and Freerer

Notes on the dumb-buddy film

By the time we get to Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, male hierarchy is back with a vengeance, and the age of dumb-buddy paranoia has arrived. Bill and Ted seem positively femme next to these down-and-out stoners. Cruelty, the classic male response to resentment, is factored into Jay's persona. He's nasty, homophobic, and about as transcendent as Beavis. Signs of holy innocence remain in Silent Bob, but it's Jay, the angry white alpha, who gets the girl. Meanwhile, resistant bitches and pussy-whipped men bite the dust. The film delivers a very contemporary message: There are few rewards for real dumbness, fewer still for true simplicity, and fewest of all for being a male bottom.

In light of this rich history, what are we to make of Dumb and Dumberer? As little as possible—except that it contains some spat-out seeds of its predecessor. It is crude but not sexist, and the closest it comes to a queer joke is young Lloyd's warning to the starry-eyed Harry: "Chicks are for fags." Embedded in that double bind is a trace of the existential dilemmas that made the original such a classic. Of course, nothing in this ill-fated prequel compares with the frozen-tongue episode in Dumb and Dumber, which Albert Camus surely would have understood as a slapstick evocation of the absurd. Harry and Lloyd never get a break because they're too stupid to take advantage of the breaks they get. In the end, this film isn't about freedom but forbearance.

Dumb and Dumber had a Sisyphean sense of life, not to mention generating the perfect balance between cringing and cracking up that is the essence of dumb-buddy comedy. Will we ever see its developmentally disabled like? Stay tuned for Dummy Dearest—I hope.
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