Nobody Does Dumb Better

DUMB AND DUMBER is spectacularly dumb, but you can't say you weren't warned. This is Jim Carrey's third star turn -- "Ace Ventura" and "The Mask" made $200 million combined -- and it's been the highest-grossing movie in the country for three weeks. Some have attributed the movie's success to a new cult of dumbness, which is just plain stupid: dumb is, and ever was. The simple truth is that Carrey gives his funniest performance here, if you've got the stomach for it. He plays Lloyd Christmas, a sweetly moronic limo driver who gets fired early in the movie ("They always freak out when you leave the scene of an accident"). As it happens, Lloyd's sweetly moronic roommate Harry (Jeff Daniels) has just lost his job as a dog-groomer. So he convinces Harry to join him on a cross-country trek to Aspen. He plans to return a briefcase that a beautiful socialite named Mary Swanson (Lauren Holly, from TV's "Picket Fences") left behind when he chauffeured her to the airport. It turns out the briefcase is full of ransom money. Then there's some stuff about kidnappers and the FBI -- we couldn't follow it all, but we weren't trying very hard, either.

Daniels isn't entirely convincing as a moron, but Carrey was born to lose. He does a wonderfully elastic turn that owes debts to Jerry Lewis's various descents into idiocy and to the great down escalator that was Steve Martin's "The Jerk." Let's be clear about the level of the humor here: there's a scene in which Lloyd sets fire to a certain bodily emission. (Rhymes with art.) Still, in its most inspired moments -- such as when Harry and Lloyd hit high-society Aspen and spend the cash in the briefcase on orange and powder-blue tuxes -- "Dumb" made us convulse with laughter and we're not going to lie about it now. Carrey is planning sequels to "Ace" and "The Mask," and surely there's a movie called "Dumbest" in our future. All that's a bit much, but Carrey's role as the Riddler in "Batman Forever" should put some meat on the bones of his career. Meanwhile, "Dumb" is a pleasure in its dopey way. We've seen it before, but we'd see it again.