Once upon a time, in a land far far away, well, Rhode Island, a "special" boy met another "special" boy. OK they're just plain dumb. The dumbness of the characters is equalled in many other aspects of the movie, but there are a few redeeming factors in "Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd."

The movie starts out kind of slow, with some background on the two main characters Lloyd Christmas (Eric Christian Olsen) and Harry Dunne (Derek Richardson) that is only mildly funny and sets the rather slow pace of the movie, which is only 82 minutes long. After that is out of the way, the main characters meet, abruptly, and become friends quickly. Little do they know that the conniving principal (Eugene Levy) and his just-as-dumb lunchlady/lover (Cheri Oteri) are going to use them to bilk $100,000 out of the state for a special needs class.

The main strong points of the movie are the performances from Olsen, in his first lead role, and Richardson, who makes his feature film debut. Their extremely accurate portrayals of the Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels characters are worth seeing, if you're a fan of the first movie. Olsen sports almost identical facial expressions and mannerisms that made Carrey so famous, and he delivers them very well. Richardson is very true to the Harry Dunne character as well, giving a nice debut performance. I don't know how he would do in other genres, or even other roles for that matter, but his performance here is solid. There are also some decent performances in smaller roles from Luis Guzman, as Lloyd's father, Rachel Nichols, as the obligatory hot chick, Josh Braaten, as an injured, but not really "special" student, and Mimi Rogers as Harry's mother.

Two of the other performances, however, that I thought would have been stronger, were very weak, and made the movie worse. Eugene Levy is not at his best as Principal Collins. His restricted performance is like a dose of NyQuil to the movie in parts where it really needs a Vivarin. SNL alum Cheri Oteri drags the movie out even more as Ms. Heller. I know her character is supposed to be dumb, but she does it so flatly that it's hard to squeeze even an ounce of humor from her character. Bob Saget's small role as the hot chick's father is dreadfully unnecessary as well.

The screenplay, co-written by rookie Robert Brenner and director Troy Miller is filled with enough funny one-liners that would make the Farrelly Brothers proud. There are also some nice references to material from the first movie, like the Felcher twins played by the lovely Costello twins from "The Man Show." But the storyline is much weaker than its predecessor and a lot of the dialogue falls flat.

Director Troy Miller, an MTV staple who has directed many of the "Real World" episodes, does an O.K. job at the helm. He does a great job with Olsen and Richardson, and it seems that he went to great lengths to make sure his characters were near carbon-copies of the characters in the first movie, because everything about them (hair, costumes, etc.) were very authentic. But he paid so much attention to Olsen and Richardson that it seems he forgot about everyone else in the cast because their performances suffer from it.

This movie had been languishing in development Hades for years. After the phenomenal success of the show "South Park," series creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone signed on to write this movie in 1998, but dropped out and, in a sign of almost unheard of "fair play" gave New Line Cinema back the $1.5 million they were paid to do it. It might have been more fair to moviegoers had they actually done this movie, because I would've loved to see what they could do with this movie, now seeing what the end result actually was.

"Dumb and Dumberer" is a movie about struggling with the harsh realities of a cruel world that treats people who are different unfairly...actually, it's just about a couple of dumb guys who don't know any better. It's got some funny parts, and I suppose you could see movies that are worse than this one. But you also could see movies that are betterer.

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