.I know, not the usual content for BoGD, but it does touch upon the broader question of whether or not "unrated" versions of films are always a good thing. This admission is probably a horrible indicator of my cinematic tastes outside the usual realm explored on this blog, so I'm just going to come out and say it, I love Dumb & Dumber. It's one of the few comedies that I can watch over-and-over without Harry and Lloyd's antics ever getting old. Perfect viewing while doing things around the house or on a rainy Sunday afternoon when you don't feel like seeing Voorhees do his thing. The last act gets a little long in the tooth, while getting less fun, though there's a great sense of pacing crafted by the Farrelly Brothers and the late editor Christopher Greenbury. Not to mention a fantastic soundtrack, among the first CDs I ever bought, and an underappreciated performance by Jeff Daniels who shows off his versatility in the face of all the idiocy.
I was spurred to write about Dumb & Dumber after picking up a "back-up" copy of New Line's now ancient theatrical PG-13 DVD at a swap meet this past weekend. The studio re-released the film in 2006 in an "unrated" version with seven additional minutes. This new version, subsequently released onto Blu-ray without a theatrical viewing option, essentially ruins the experience. New footage (detailed here) is scattered throughout and breaks up the aforementioned pace of many scenes where Greenbury's cuts act as punchlines. For example, when Lloyd encounters Seabass in the gas station stall. In the theatrical cut; Lloyd notices the writing on the wall, quickly locks the stall in a panic, Seabass kicks the door open, Lloyd lets out an hilarious primitive shriek, and we cut back to Harry in the process of lighting his leg ablaze. In the unrated cut, Lloyd's chance meeting lingers on past his scream to a point where the laughs end and discomfort of Lloyd's situation settles in. The new version is full of those kinds of instances, basically taking the sly cleverness from the picture, and replacing it with the more ribald, adult humor seen in later Farrelly Brothers comedies. That sounds good, but the reality is the ruination of something that worked beautifully within the confines of a PG-13 rating.
I'm no expert on the world of John K., but this whole thing reminds of the ingenuous The Ren and Stimpy Show. The real knack of the original series was working under the domineering eyes of Nickelodeon while still managing to make the series hilarious. Of course, Nickelodeon won most of the battles and eventually drove the cartoon into the dirt, but man when it was great the network rarely achieved anything better--aside from The Adventures of Pete & Pete. Then Spike and Kricfalusi relaunched the characters in the abomination known as the Ren & Stimpy "Adult Party Cartoon" in 2003. With much less boundaries to work around, the series lost all the previous magic, resulting in a big pile of crude shit.
So yeah, I never thought I'd be advocating PG-13 ratings over unrated status, but in the case of Dumb & Dumber, it's sad to think this inferior unrated version might end up being what people experience for years to come with the high def release. At least as far as New Line is concerned.