“Big Mistake. Huge!”

Remember that scene in Pretty Woman where Vivian (Julia Roberts) really sticks it to the shop girls that had previously snubbed her? After getting her makeover and shopping her tail off she walks into the mean-girl shop with her hands full of bags and says “Hey remember me? You wouldn’t wait one me the other day?? Big mistake. Huge!” and walks out leaving the women with their mouths gaping.  What a great scene.  In the previous scene, where Vivian gets her makeover, the song Pretty Woman plays in the background.

As part of this week’s DS106 assignment, I watched the below clip from Dumb and Dumber. In the clip, Lloyd (Jim Carey) gets a makeover with the help of his friend Harry (Jeff Daniels).  the makeover scene also uses Pretty Woman soundtrack – a clear, hilarious reference to the original film.

In order to analyze the combination of audio and visual techniques, we were asked to first watch the clip with no audio, then listen with out watching, then watch, listen, and analyze.  While watching the clip sans audio, I made notes by drawing little sketches of the scenes I saw instead of writing them down.  Here’s pic of my sketches:


Rather than showing you all my sorry sketches, here’s a quick list of some of the scene set-ups and visual techniques that were used:

  1. Over-the-shoulder (of Harry) shot with Llyod in the back of the shot slightly left but close to center.
  2. Shot of Harry and Llyod in barber’s chairs, each with a barber to the left.
  3. Harry and Llyoyd in salon hair dryers with two stylists in between them.
  4. Pan from Llyod’s head down to his (gnarly) feet.
  5. Pan out from Llyod being shaven
  6. Shot looking up at Llyod as he laughs
  7. Straight on shot of Harry getting/giving a massage
  8. Same shot as beginning
  9. Pan up from floor to Lloyd and Harry getting nose trims
  10. Pan up from Llyod’s (still gnarly) pedicure
  11. Back to the same shot we started with, over Harry’s shoulder with Lloyd in the back, almost center.

Next, we were asked to simply listen to the audio, without watching the clip.  Here’s what I heard:

  1. “Pretty Woman” scoring the clip.
  2. Scissors
  3. Hair dryers
  4. Filing
  5. Shaving/squirting
  6. Laughing
  7. Body smacking sounds
  8. Walking
  9. Scissors
  10. Power tools
  11. Cheering and dancing

And now – the final piece, putting it all together.  Even though I knew all the gags of the scene from watching them one way and the other, they were definitely funnier once the visual and audio components were together.  For example, focusing on the visual, you only see the pan down from Lloyd’s face to his feet while he’s getting a pedicure.  You also see the pan back up later.  You see Llyod’s nasty toes and it kinda grosses you out.  Hearing the sound of filing, and later, power tools, along with Lloyd’s nasty toes totally makes you cringe.  I think the best way to sum up what I’m trying to explain here is that the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts.  The visual and the audio and funny – but together, they’re laugh-out-loud funny.

Taking time to isolate a sense caused me to notice some things that I may not have noticed before.  For example, the cutting and trimming noises aren’t something I would have picked up on just watching the scene ordinarily.  However, once I noticed them, I continued to notice them, and they definitely enhanced the scene by giving it a realistic dimension over the soundtrack of Pretty Woman.  The scene incorporates some of the techniques that Roger Ebert discusses like using a shot from below Lloyd’s point of view while he was laughing at the barber after pulling his little ‘prank.’ The shot enhances him and makes him look bigger in the situation — which he is since he’s the one that is controlling the situation.  Ebert also talks about how symmetrical shots seem to be at rest.  This scene has several shots that are almost symmetrical but they defy Ebert’s theory by always incorporating some sort of motion. For example, when Harry and Lloyd are in the hair dryer chairs and the stylists are between them – the shot is perfectly symmetrical.  But, the two make a turn towards each other, keeping the scene in motion and more interesting.

I never was too crazy about the movie Dumb and Dumber, but breaking down the scene has definitely allowed me to give the film a little more credit.  It uses a lot of film and audio techniques to make this scene something that drive’s the films story forward and keeps the audience extremely entertained.


2 thoughts on ““Big Mistake. Huge!”

  1. You certainly founder more detail in Dumb and Dumber than I expected; with the entire sub context of two goons being redone to the tune of Pretty Woman. But as in any movie, all of the elements are considered as you have found, from camera to sound effects to character positioning.

    Not su dumb after all.

  2. I think watching this clip is the most I’ve seen of Dumb and Dumber. Your analysis of the audio and video components are spot on; they definitely make the movie less “dumb.” If I had never seen this movie before and I only listened to the audio, I would not have gotten a story from the audio alone (the sounds would not have related enough to make a story). The video portion of it is very important to a slapstic comedy like this.

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