15 Trivia Tidbits About ‘Dumb and Dumber’ from Screenwriter Bennett Yellin

15 Trivia Tidbits About ‘Dumb and Dumber’ from Screenwriter Bennett Yellin

A hallmark of art house cinema is asking hard questions of its audience. Having the viewer dig deep inside can unbury dark and emotionally uncomfortable truths they’re not ready to confront. In the cold December of 1994, a Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels film did, uh, none of that. Instead, we were asked a very straightforward, earnest and hilarious question: “Wanna hear the most annoying sound in the world?”

Now, wanna read trivia tidbits about Dumb and Dumber revealed straight from the movie’s co-screenwriter Bennett Yellin?

It All Started With John Hughes — Yes, THAT John Hughes

“Peter Farrelly, Bobby Farrelly and I had written the sequel to Dragnet with Dan Aykroyd,” Yellin begins. 

“It was a really good script, and John Hughes heard about it somehow. He read it and called us into his office and said he liked our writing. Then he told us about this idea he’d had about two idiots at a ski resort. Then he told us, ‘Come back and pitch me a movie,’ and it was John Hughes, so, of course, we did it.” 

But They Couldn’t Use Hughes’ Name

“We came back and pitched John Hughes the whole plot of Dumb and Dumber, and he said, ‘Go and write it, and if I like it, I’ll let you direct it,’” Yellin explains. “We wrote it, but then his production deal at Universal ended, and the project disappeared. Two years later, we contacted John and said, ‘Could we get Dumb and Dumber and take it around?’ He gave us permission to do that, which was very generous of him, but he said, ‘You can’t attach me as the producer. If you do, you have to pay me a million dollars.’ So we saved a million dollars right from the beginning by never mentioning John.”

Harry and Lloyd’s Friendship Was Inspired By Bob Hope And Bing Crosby Movies

“I love the Road movies with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby,” Yellin says, referring to films like Road to Rio and Road to Morocco, a series of comedies released primarily during the 1940s. “The dynamic between them was always the same: Bob Hope and Big Crosby were both after Dorothy Lamour, and they’re stabbing each other in the back to get to her. That is exactly the dynamic in Dumb and Dumber, and Dumb and Dumber is also a road movie.”

The Alternate Titles

Yellin can’t recall the origin of the title Dumb and Dumber. Still, he says that, early on, every studio rejected it, so they decided to re-circulate it under two different alternate titles, including Go West and A Power Tool Is Not a Toy, a song by the Young Adults. The original title, Dumb and Dumber, eventually won out. 

How Harry and Lloyd Got Their Names

“Harry Dunne was a journalist we knew, so we phoned him up and asked him if we could use his name,” Yellin says. As for Lloyd Christmas, the origin of his name was meant as a joke. “Because Lloyd’s love interest is named ‘Mary,’ we thought it’d be funny to have him daydream about the name ‘Mary Christmas.’”

Another Significant Name

In the hot tub scene, Harry mentions his ex-girlfriend Fraida Felcher. Yellin says, “My sister is named Fraida, and Fraida Felcher is a generous homage to my sister. Back then, though, nobody knew what felching meant, but we did. We couldn’t believe that no one ever brought it up.”

‘Ace Ventura’ Scared Yellin

“Things went over great with Jim Carrey and The Mask at New Line,” Yellin says. “So someone at New Line gave him the script for Dumb and Dumber, and he liked it. Peter, Bobby and I were set to meet him, so I decided to go see Ace Ventura, which was in theaters at the time. I saw it and got really worried. The character is so extreme. There’s not one line in that movie that isn’t delivered in some weird way. I stumbled out of there and went to go meet him. The first thing he said was, ‘I just want to assure you, this is not Ace Ventura; I will not be doing that character in this.’ Inside, I let out a huge sigh of relief.”

Daniels Was Yellin and the Farrellys’ First Choice

“Peter and Bobby loved Jeff Daniels from Something Wild, and I loved him from Terms of Endearment and The Purple Rose of Cairo,” says Yellin. “So when we were thinking about who could play opposite Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels was first in our minds. Jim was known for having a lot of energy, and he was so wild that we thought that Jeff Daniels, being a great actor, would pull him more to the acting side and less to the shtick side.”

New Line Didn’t Want Daniels to Do It, and Neither Did Daniels’ Agents

“New Line wanted another comedian,” says Yellin. “They wanted an already-established comedy actor. Also, none of Jeff’s management wanted him to do it. Later on, during the rough cut, Jeff’s managers were watching the bathroom scene, which was much longer. One of them taps me on the shoulder and says, ‘You’re cutting that, aren’t you?’ I said, ‘Yeah, that’s out.’ We did cut it in half, but we definitely didn’t cut it.”

How Daniels Gets into Character

“Before every take, Jeff Daniels would just shake his head really hard, emptying it of any thoughts or intelligence. That’s how he got into character as Harry,” recalls Yellin.

Yellin Knew’ Dumb and Dumber’ Would Be A Hit from the Trailer

Dumb and Dumber was filmed after Ace Ventura was released but before The Mask came out in theaters,” says Yellin. “New Line put a Dumb and Dumber trailer before The Mask, and I remember going to a bunch of theaters to watch it and see the audience’s reaction. I would watch the trailer and see the audience roaring. I said to myself, ‘This is going to be a hit.’”

Yellin’s Favorite Review

Generally speaking, Dumb and Dumber wasn’t a critics’ darling. However, one negative review still sticks with Yellin. “Of anything I’ve ever done, my mom only ever stuck one review to her refrigerator. It was a review for Dumb and Dumber that said, ‘The writers’ mothers should be ashamed!’ I always loved seeing that on her refrigerator.”

How the Sequel, ‘Dumb and Dumber To’ Came About

“Pete got a call from Jim Carrey. Jim was in Hawaii, and he turned on the TV in the hotel and Dumb and Dumber was on, and he watched it again. Then he called up Pete and said, ‘That movie’s hilarious, let’s make another one,’” Yellin recalls. 

Bobby Farrelly Still Has a Mutt Cutts Van

“Bobby held onto one of the Mutt Cutts vans, and we got it out of storage for Dumber and Dumber To,” says Yellin. “We used it for the movie, but it wasn’t the one that was destroyed in Dumb and Dumber To. That was a mock-up.”

You’re Probably Not Watching the ‘Real’ ‘Dumb and Dumber’

“There’s a terrible version of the movie out there that Peter, Bobby and I had nothing to do with called Dumb and Dumber: Unrated,” says Yellin. “Years ago, they did this version without us, and now, if you were to go buy Dumb and Dumber on DVD or Blu-ray in a store, that’s the version you’re getting. You can’t get the original theatrical version. This version has alternate takes and extra material we didn’t approve of, including an extended version of the Seabass scene, which comes off as homophobic. There’s also a line from the hot tub scene where Harry says something like, ‘If you had jugs, I’d bang you too.’ We’d cut all that for a reason! It’s awful. What was in theaters was the best version of Dumb and Dumber, and it drives me crazy that that other version is the version you’re now getting on DVD.”

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