Fun with Dick and Jane

2006-07-12 17:19


It's been a long climb but Dick Harper (Jim Carrey) is finally nearing the top of the Globodyne corporate ladder. His boss, Jack McCallister (Alec Baldwin), has just made him Vice President, and now his wife Jane (Tea Leoni) can finally quit her job at the travel agency. What Dick doesn't realise is that he is being set up. In a massive corporate scandal, Globodyne collapses in ruins, McCallister makes off with all the profits, and Dick is left holding the phone. After searching long and hard for a job, Dick begins to become desperate. He and Jane begin selling off their prized possessions to stave off their growing mountain of debt, but it's simply not enough.

At wit's end, Dick snaps and he and Jane embark on a series of daring nighttime robberies. For a while they are invigorated by their Bonnie and Clyde antics, but their consciences soon begin to catch up with them. Then Dick has an idea - why rob from the poor when you can rob from the super rich? And Dick just happens to know one extraordinarily rich man...


Fun with Dick and Jane is a textbook example of why a great idea is nothing without a decent execution. The idea behind the movie - a look at the aftermath of a corporate meltdown on the suddenly destitute mid-level executives - is a truly great one. What could be a more fertile ground for wry social commentary and delicious black humour? And, in a world still feeling the aftershocks of scandals like Enron, who could hope for a better time to explore these themes?

Unfortunately the team of three writers clearly had no concrete ideas on how to approach the material. Instead of sinking their teeth into the meat of the subject, they skirt around it, skimming the surface and never giving us any more insight than we would find in a two-minute news report.

What's more they have sensed the weaknesses in their script and tried to make up for it with lashings of goofy physical and situational humour. While this can be amusing, we've seen it a hundred times before. More to the point the movie's central idea doesn't need padding - it is as rich a subject as you could ever hope for. To dress it up in prat falls and fake beards is to completely waste its potential.

The film is a step backwards for Jim Carrey, and the frustration shows in his performance. After a string of interesting and intelligent roles in films like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Truman Show, Carrey has begun to grow out of the goofy physical comedy shtick that first brought him fame. He goes through the motions in Fun with Dick and Jane with the consummate professionalism of a seasoned comedian, but you can tell he isn't enjoying himself.

As for the other actors, they are generally inoffensive, but no one really stands out except Alec Baldwin as the cold-hearted Southern tycoon. Baldwin may be the only actor really enjoying himself on the picture, and he hams it up to great effect. He seems to be developing a taste for playing super rich men, as we saw in last year's Elizabethtown. Tea Leoni (Jane) is a graceful and eminently likeable actress, but she seems wholly out of place in this fumbling slapstick fest. Perhaps she was sold on the idea and didn't realise quite how dumb the script would turn out to be.

Perhaps the saddest thing about the movie is its misuse of talent. Director Dean Parisot has a flair for warm-hearted satire, something we saw very clearly in 1999's screamingly funny Galaxy Quest. Head writer Judd Apatow showed his mettle in The 40-year-old Virgin, and Brian Grazer is one of the most talented and wildly successful producers in Hollywood. With a team like this how can you hope to fail? Well, it happens.

Is it worth seeing? If you're in the mood for an ultra light comedy that won't make you think or feel much at all, then by all means go. It might be better to wait for the DVD though. At least then you can skip to the funny bits.

- Alistair Fairweather

Jim Carey fans might enjoy this goofy satire on the shenanigans of unemployed executives, but it's a very long way from his best work.

Nana 2006/01/26 10:39 AM
MS not too shabby just like Jim carey
Shamie 2006/01/28 1:28 PM
Fun with Dick & Jane The worst of all his movies......let's move forward Jim not backwards
PricelessAdvice 2006/01/28 9:28 PM
Jim's not that bad I went to see Saw ii and i did, so i just went to see this film so I could actually sleep tonight! So I spent most of the time thinking about needles and crap... I think this film is just not deep enough, Jim did a pretty good job atleast Saw II
Hassen 2006/01/29 3:52 AM
Fun with Dick & Jane i killed myself was a unique was a fun movie. Fun with Dick & Jane
Truth 2006/01/29 7:47 AM
Truth Shamie, tell it as it is, and not according to the critics ... A great movie, go and see it!! Saw - II
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