Dumb and Dumber To
We have it on the authority of Forrest Gump that stupid is as stupid does. And so it proves with the broad comedy sequel “Dumb and Dumber To” (Universal).
Its tiresome dopiness, however, isn’t the main problem with the film: While many of the gags in co-directors (and brothers) Peter and Bobby Farrelly’s lowbrow laffer are merely vulgar, a couple of scenes trigger such deep disgust that the whole can be endorsed for no one.
The script, in which the Farrellys also had a hand, along with four others, reunites Lloyd (Jim Carrey) and Harry (Jeff Daniels), the pair of nitwits whose earlier adventures in idiocy were charted in the 1994 original. Lloyd has spent the interval in a mental asylum pretending to be catatonic as a prolonged practical joke on Harry. But he snaps out of it on hearing that his buddy needs a kidney donor.
Together the friends set off in search of the most likely candidate, Penny (Rachel Melvin), the grown daughter Harry has only just discovered he has. In the process of tracking her down, they get mixed up with her adoptive dad, acclaimed scientist Dr. Pinchelow (Steve Tom), his scheming trophy wife, Adele (Laurie Holden), and their shifty handyman, Travis (Rob Riggle).
Dr. Pinchelow has invented a mysterious device with world-altering potential, the vastly profitable rights to which he plans to sign away. Predictably, Adele and Travis have other, less noble, ideas.
Given the adolescent pitch of the movie, it’s hardly surprising that sex is a steady theme. But the utterly debased manner in which that subject is treated via the knuckleheads’ interaction with an elderly lady in a nursing home and by way of a perverse childhood memory should warn off all self-respecting prospective viewers.
The film contains pervasive sexual and much scatological humor, some of it involving bestiality and other aberrations, brief irreverence, fleeting rear and partial nudity, at least one use each of profanity and the F-word and intermittent crude and crass language. (O, PG-13)
Beyond the Lights
Though obviously well-intended, the romantic drama “Beyond the Lights” (Relativity) includes elements that make it problematic even for grown viewers.
In large part, that’s a result of the milieu in which the film is set: the vulgarity-soaked world of rap music. As a rising star within the genre, British born singer Noni (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) seems to have everything going for her: clamoring fans, industry awards and an upcoming album that promises to be a blockbuster. Behind the scenes, however, Noni is so burnt-out and miserable that she attempts to commit suicide by jumping from the balcony of her luxurious Los Angeles hotel.
She’s prevented from doing so by the soothing intervention of Kaz (Nate Parker), the policeman assigned to protect her. He gives her back the will to live by assuring her that he can see the real person behind her public persona. In the wake of this dramatic first meeting, the cocooned diva and the solitary cop — who aspires to become a politician — take a somewhat unlikely shine to each other.
Their budding relationship is opposed by Noni’s success-at-all-costs showbiz mom, Macy (Minnie Driver), and by callous singer Kid Culprit — played by real-life rapper Richard Colson Baker, aka Machine Gun Kelly — who is both Noni’s collaborator and her lover.
A sadly realistic atmosphere of degraded sensuality pervades the musical performances in writer-director Gina Prince-Bythewood’s movie, though the story arc eventually finds Noni rebelling against this aspect of her career.
Additionally, the script takes going to bed before strolling down the aisle for granted. Thus Noni and Kaz have a somewhat bizarre encounter on a private plane within days of meeting each other. Yet their story does have its appealing aspects, including the positive mutual support that generally marks their interaction. Kaz encourages Noni’s ambition to write her own songs and perform more serious material in the mold of jazz icon Nina Simone.
The film contains brief semi-graphic premarital sexual activity, temporary cohabitation, partial nudity, much strongly suggestive behavior, at least one use of the F-word and considerable crude and crass language. (A-III, PG-13)