15 Brilliant Facts About Dumb and Dumber

We know you don’t want to hear the most annoying sound in the world, so how about some facts about the 1994 comedy classic, Dumb and Dumber?

1. THE FARRELLY BROTHERS UPDATED AN OLD SCRIPT TO WRITE DUMB AND DUMBER.

The first script written by the directing duo was for a movie called Dust to Dust that told the story of two idiot friends who worked at a funeral parlor. They used it to get their foot in the door for meetings in Hollywood, and eventually the Dust to Dust script was bought but was never made into a movie. Years later they resurrected the same idea of two idiot friends getting into bizarre and hilarious schemes when they set out to write Dumb and Dumber.

2. NOBODY WANTED TO CALL IT DUMB AND DUMBER—EXCEPT THE FARRELLY BROTHERS.

The script went through a few name changes as it made the rounds because it kept being rejected based solely on the Dumb and Dumber moniker. Because no studio wanted to make a movie called Dumb and Dumber, the Farrellys changed the name of the script to Go West and then A Power Tool is Not a Toy, just to get studio execs to read it.

3. THE MOVIE STUDIO THAT AGREED TO MAKE THE MOVIE DIDN’T WANT TO MAKE IT.

The script passed through—and was rejected by—every major Hollywood studio until it made its way to New Line Cinema, where studio president Mike De Luca loved the script and agreed to make it. But Bob Shaye, the studio’s CEO, hated it, and only agreed to greenlight the film if the filmmakers could secure two leads from a list of 25 comedic actors provided by the studio. The Farrellys pitched the script to the entire list of actors, all of whom turned it down.

4. THE LIST OF NAMES THAT PASSED WAS PRETTY AMBITIOUS.

Nicolas Cage, Martin Short, Steve Martin, Rob Lowe, and Gary Oldman were some of the actors who were on that list. According to Bobby Farrelly, “Occasionally we’ll bump into somebody who will say like, ‘Hey, how come you never offered me a role?’ ‘I offered you Dumb and Dumber.’ But they never got them. You know, you thought you were being turned down by all the actors, but it’s really the agents just saying, ‘No, he can’t do it, he’s unavailable.’ It’s rare that they actually give it to them. So hard to tell how many actually passed, but we were told 100.”

5. THE MOVIE WAS MADE BECAUSE OF JIM CARREY.

Despite the pile of rejections, the filmmakers soldiered on and eventually offered the part of Lloyd Christmas to then-relative-newcomer Jim Carrey. One of the producers knew Carrey from his days as a cast member on In Living Color, and got him the script while he was working on the movie The Mask (which was shot before Dumb and Dumber). Carrey met with the brothers and they immediately hit it off.

6. CARREY’S SUCCESS MADE HIM RENEGOTIATE HIS ACTING FEE.

Carrey was initially offered $350,000 to appear in Dumb and Dumber, and continued to negotiate the final number with the studio. But his star-making turn in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective immediately gave him the clout to demand more money. He was eventually paid $7 million to appear in the movie (which was shot on a budget of $16 million).

7. CARREY HAD A RECORD-BREAKING 1994.

He became the first actor in history to headline three number one movies at the box office in the same year with Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Mask, and Dumb and Dumber.

8. THE STUDIO DIDN’T WANT THE FILMMAKERS TO CAST JEFF DANIELS.

The Farrelly brothers approached Jeff Daniels to play Harry Dunne because they enjoyed his dramatic and comedic turn in director Jonathan Demme’s 1986 movie, Something Wild. The studio didn’t want to cast Daniels because he had never appeared in any outright comedic roles, and they didn’t think he’d able to keep up with a comedic kingpin like Carrey. Instead they favored Harland Williams, but the Farrelly brothers pushed for Daniels—which prompted the studio to lowball him on his acting fee. The studio offered Daniels $50,000, figuring he’d say no. But Daniels took the part. Williams would go on to appear in the movie as the Pennsylvania highway patrolman who mistakenly drinks Carrey’s urine out of a beer bottle after pulling them over.

9. THE FARRELLY BROTHERS INCLUDED THEIR OWN NOD TO SOMETHING WILD IN DUMB AND DUMBER.

In the scene where Harry and Lloyd skip out on their diner tab, Harry asks Lloyd where he learned that trick, and Lloyd responds that he had seen it in a movie once. The movie he’s referring to is Something Wild, starring Daniels, which features a similar dine-and-dash scam.

10. MANY OF THE MOST ICONIC SCENES WERE IMPROVISED.

Peter Farrelly admitted that about 15 percent of the movie was ad-libbed. The directors would have the actors do two takes that adhered to their script and then let the actors improvise in takes after that. Some of the ad-libbed scenes include the “Wanna hear the movie annoying sound in the world,” scene, the moment when Carrey leaves the hotel bar in Aspen and is surprised about the Apollo 11 moon landing, and the move with the doggy bag at the end of the kung-fu sequence.

11. HARRY AND LLOYD SHARED A ROOM WITH THE SHINING.

The swanky Danbury Hotel in the movie is actually the Stanely Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, the allegedly haunted 106-year-old hotel that inspired author Stephen King to pen the horror classic The Shining. Carrey reportedly requested to stay in the haunted room 217, but checked out after only three hours because of its ghostly power.

12. LLOYD’S CHIPPED TOOTH IS REAL.

To become Lloyd in Dumb and Dumber, Carrey uncapped his chipped front tooth, and did the same for the movie’s sequel. Carrey lost part of his tooth in a fight during elementary school detention.

13. CLINT EASTWOOD TOOK JEFF DANIELS’S TOILET SCENE VERY PERSONALLY.

After the movie premiered and was a big hit, Daniels was approached by Hollywood legend Clint Eastwood at a celebrity golf tournament, who told the actor that the embarrassing toilet scene actually happened to him in real life. Apparently Clint had gone out on a date and was beset by some bad shellfish, and sped to the bathroom only to find out it was broken once he had done his business. Daniels would go on to work with Eastwood on his movie, Blood Work.

14. THE MOVIE HAD TWO ALTERNATE ENDINGS.

The original ending had the Danbury Hotel concierge offering Harry and Lloyd a job working one day a week at the hotel, which the pair laugh off and leave on their moped. Another similar ending has the concierge asking the two to stay and possibly look after his grandson who ends up being Billy in 4C, the blind child that Lloyd tricked into buying Harry’s dead bird. When they shot the current ending, the studio wanted Harry and Lloyd to get on the bus with the Hawaiian Tropic models, but Carrey and the Farrelly brothers refused, citing the fact that the characters are supposed to be dumb.

15. IT SPAWNED A SATURDAY MORNING CARTOON.

While there was a big screen prequel and recent sequel, Dumb and Dumber also inspired a Saturday morning cartoon that ran for one season on ABC. The cartoon tracked the further adventures of Harry and Lloyd, and featured a new companion for the two in the shape of a pet beaver named Kitty.

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When Mississippi Once Banned Sesame Street

Children's Television Workshop/Courtesy of Getty Images
Children's Television Workshop/Courtesy of Getty Images

Since it began airing in the fall of 1969, Sesame Street has become an indelible part of millions of children's formative years. Using a cast of colorful characters like Big Bird, Bert, Ernie, and Oscar the Grouch, along with a curriculum vetted by Sesame Workshop's child psychologists and other experts, the series is able to impart life lessons and illustrate educational tools that a viewer can use throughout their adolescence. You would be hard-pressed to find anyone—even Oscar—who would take issue with the show’s approach or its mission statement.

Yet that’s exactly what happened in early 1970, when a board of educational consultants in Mississippi gathered, polled one another, and decided that Sesame Street was too controversial for television.

The series had only been on the air for a few months when the newly formed Mississippi Authority for Educational Television (also known as the State Commission for Educational Television) held a regularly scheduled meeting in January 1970. The board had been created by the state legislature with appointees named by Governor John Bell Williams to evaluate shows that were set to air on the state’s Educational Television, or ETV, station. The five-member panel consisted of educators and private citizens, including a teacher and a principal, and was headed up by James McKay, a banker in Jackson, Mississippi.

McKay’s presence was notable for the fact that his father-in-law, Allen Thompson, had just retired after spending 20 years as mayor of Jackson. Highly resistant to integration in the city during his tenure in office, Thompson was also the founder of Freedom of Choice in the United States, or FOCUS, an activist group that promoted what they dubbed “freedom of choice” in public schools—a thinly veiled reference to segregation. Mississippi, long the most incendiary state in the nation when it came to civil rights, was still struggling with the racial tension of the 1960s. Systemic racism was an issue.

Entering this climate was Sesame Street, the show pioneered by Joan Ganz Cooney, a former journalist and television producer who became the executive director of the Children’s Television Workshop. On the series, the human cast was integrated, with black performers Matt Robinson and Loretta Long as Gordon and Susan, respectively, appearing alongside white actors Jada Rowland and Bob McGrath. The children of Sesame Street were also ethnically diverse.

Zoe (L) and Cookie Monster (R) are pictured in New York City in November 2009
Astrid Stawiarz, Getty Images

This appeared to be too much for the Authority, which discussed how lawmakers with control over ETV’s budget—which had just been set at $5,367,441—might find the mixed-race assembly offensive. The panel's participants were all white.

The board pushed the discussion aside until April 17, 1970, when they took an informal poll and decided, by a margin of three votes against two, to prohibit ETV from airing Sesame Street—a show that came free of charge to all public television stations. (The decision affected mainly viewers in and around Jackson, as the station had not yet expanded across the state and was not expected to do so until the fall of 1970.)

The members who were outvoted were plainly unhappy with the outcome and leaked the decision to The New York Times, which published a notice of the prohibition days later along with a quote from one of the board members.

“Some of the members of the commission were very much opposed to showing the series because it uses a highly integrated cast of children,” the person, who did not wish to be named, said. “Mainly the commission members felt that Mississippi was not yet ready for it.”

The reaction to such a transparent concession to racism was swift and predictably negative, both in and out of Mississippi. Board members who spoke with press, usually anonymously, claimed the decision was a simple “postponing” of the show, not an outright ban. The fear, they said, was that legislators who viewed ETV as having progressive values might shut down the project before it had a chance to get off the ground. It was still possible for opponents to suffocate it before it became part of the fabric of the state’s television offerings.

The concern was not entirely without merit. State representative Tullius Brady of Brookhaven said that ETV exerted “a subtle influence” on the minds of children and that the Ford Foundation, which funded educational programming, could use its influence for “evil purposes.” Other lawmakers had previously argued against shows that promoted integration.

Grover is pictured at AOL Studios in New York City in May 2015
Slaven Vlasic, Getty Images

Regardless of how the decision was justified, many took issue with it. In an anonymous editorial for the Delta Democrat-Times, a critic wrote:

“But Mississippi’s ETV commission won’t be showing it for the time being because of one fatal defect, as measured by Mississippi’s political leadership. Sesame Street is integrated. Some of its leading cast members are black, including the man who does much of the overt ‘teaching.’ The neighborhood of the ‘street’ is a mixed one. And all that, of course, goes against the Mississippi grain.”

Joan Ganz Cooney called the decision a “tragedy” for young people.

Fortunately, it was a tragedy with a short shelf life. The following month, the board reconvened and reversed its own informal poll result, approving of Sesame Street and agreeing that ETV could air it as soon as they received tapes of the program. Thanks to feeds from Memphis, New Orleans, and Alabama, Sesame Street could already be seen in parts of Mississippi. And thanks to the deluge of negative responses, it seemed pointless to try to placate politicians who still favored segregation.

In the fall of 1970, the Sesame Street cast appeared in person in Jackson and was met by representatives from the board, which helped to sponsor the live performance, though it’s not clear any apology was forthcoming.

Sesame Street would go on to win numerous awards and accolades over the proceeding 50 years, though it would not be the only children’s show to experience censorship on public television. In May 2019, ETV networks in Alabama and Arkansas refused to air an episode of the PBS animated series Arthur in which a rat and aardvark are depicted as a same-sex couple getting married.

Attention Movie Geeks: Cinephile Is the Card Game You Need Right Now

Cinephile/Amazon
Cinephile/Amazon

If you’ve got decades worth of movie trivia up in your head but nowhere to show it off, Cinephile: A Card Game just may be your perfect outlet. Created by writer, art director, and movie expert Cory Everett, with illustrations by Steve Isaacs, this game aims to test the mettle of any film aficionado with five different play types that are designed for different skill and difficulty levels.

For players looking for a more casual experience, Cinephile offers a game variety called Filmography, where you simply have to name more movies that a given actor has appeared in than your opponent. For those who really want to test their knowledge of the silver screen, there’s the most challenging game type, Six Degrees, which plays like Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, with the player who finds the fewest number of degrees between two actors getting the win.

When you choose actors for Six Degrees, you’ll do so using the beautifully illustrated cards that come with the game, featuring Hollywood A-listers past and present in some of their most memorable roles. You’ve got no-brainers like Uma Thurman in Kill Bill (2003) and Arnold Schwarzenegger in Total Recall (1990) alongside cult favorites like Bill Murray from 2004's The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and Jeff Goldblum in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984). Of course, being a game designed for the true film buff, you’ll also get some deeper cuts like Helen Mirren from 1990’s The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover and Sean Connery in 1974's Zardoz. There are 150 cards in all, with expansion packs on the way.

Cinephile is a labor of love for Everett and Isaacs, who originally got this project off the ground via Kickstarter, where they raised more than $20,000. Now it’s being published on a wider scale by Clarkson Potter, a Penguin Random House group. You can get your copy from Amazon now for $20.

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