CC Alum Proves He's 'Dumberer' As a Fox
Originally published in the Colorado Springs Gazette
June 29, 2003
by Brandon Fibbs
Colorado College. Its esteemed halls have produced doctors, lawyers, politicians, educators, bankers . . . and one really dumb guy.
Ordinarily, being called dumb is an insult. But referring to Derek Richardson as dumb is a downright compliment.
In 1994, the Farrelly brothers ("There's Something About Mary") breathed new life into the gross-out comedy with "Dumb and Dumber."
The misadventures of two exceptionally dull-witted friends, Harry (Jim Carrey) and Lloyd (Jeff Daniels), proved to be a wildly successful cult classic. The sequel, or, more correctly, the prequel, was inevitable.
Enter Derek Richardson.
"Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd" tells how the two became friends while trying to survive a high school "special needs" program. But if you go to watch "Dumb and Dumberer," you won't see Jim Carrey or Jeff Daniels. Filling their formidably dumb shoes are Eric Christian Olsen as Harry and, ta-da, Derek Richardson as Lloyd.
"A lot of the students here are creative and smart," says CC student Jeanette Ziegenhorn. "It's not so much of a stretch that one of our own actually made it into a funny, creative and cool film."
Even the most cursory glance of critical reviews for "Dumb and Dumberer" reveal en masse that "funny, creative and cool" are the least appropriate words in the world to describe this movie. The entertainment industry hasn't seen this sort of critical backlash to a film since 1986's "Howard the Duck."
One reviewer says "Dumb and Dumberer" is "best described as a cinematic black hole - infinite, and terrifying in its sheer emptiness. The only way to watch this soulless, greedy, and completely unfunny piece of junk is from inside a windowless nuclear shelter, lined with 20 feet of concrete, preferably located in the middle of the desert in another solar system."
In Ziegenhorn's defense, she hasn't seen the movie. Her enthusiasm, misplaced though it may be, must be attributed to an understandable support of one of her own.
Richardson, an art history major who wrote his senior thesis on 1950s and '60s pop art and how it reflected and inspired the social upheaval of the era, is described as, "a wonderful student, very smart, and interested in everything" says Ruth Kolarik, professor of art history at CC.
Richardson's acting ambition did not bud until his senior year, says professor emeritus Jim Malcolm, who has stayed in contact with him over the years.
"Derek was one of those kids who takes an acting class for fun and discovers he has a special ability. In every acting class there is someone who is very special. Derek was that person."
In 1998, the year he graduated from CC, Richardson landed a recurring role on the WB's "Felicity." He would later go on to a guest appearance on the NBC staple "Law & Order."
"Dumb and Dumberer" is Richardson's first feature film. Negative reviews or not, the movie still brought in a satisfactory $11 million dollars, placing it sixth in the top-grossing movies on its opening weekend.
Student Gabriel Varney only laughs when he hears of Richardson's success. "Yeah," he says. "This school will make you funny."
Fellow student Susanna Thiel chooses to look for the silver lining in Richardson's accomplishments.
"He gives hope to those of us who feel like the graduates from here just go on to McDonald's and Starbucks."
Malcolm hopes Richardson has continuing success in Hollywood - but, hopefully, in more quality films. Though he has not seen "Dumb and Dumberer," he confesses that he has heard it is an appalling movie.
"We didn't train him for that! " he proclaims.