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Movie Review

Fun with Dick and Jane

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for brief language, some sexual humor and occasional humorous drug references

Reviewed by: Sheri McMurray
CONTRIBUTOR

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults Teens
Genre:
Romance Crime Comedy Remake
Length:
1 hr. 30 min.
Year of Release:
2005
USA Release:
December 21, 2005 (wide)
DVD: April 20, 2006
Copyright, Sony Pictures Releasing
Copyright, Sony Pictures Releasing
Copyright, Sony Pictures Releasing
Copyright, Sony Pictures Releasing
Copyright, Sony Pictures Releasing
Copyright, Sony Pictures Releasing
Copyright, Sony Pictures Releasing
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Sony Pictures Releasing

How can I spend my money more wisely? Answer

Does the Bible share any wisdom about investing? Answer

Should a Christian have or use credit cards? Answer

Featuring: Jim Carrey, Téa Leoni, Alec Baldwin, Richard Jenkins, Clint Howard, Angie Harmon, more »
Director: Dean Parisot
Producer: Imagine Entertainment, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Columbia Pictures Corporation, JC 23 Entertainment, Jane Bartelme, Peter Bart, Jim Carrey, Ashley Cook, Linda Fields Hill, Brian Grazer, Max Palevsky, Kim Roth
Distributor: Sony Pictures Releasing

“See Dick run.”

For Jim Carrey fans, this one has him back on the laugh track. In view of all the troubles these guys have caused: WorldCom, Enron, Adelphia, HealthSouth, Global Crossing, and Tyco, it’s about time we had a movie that deals with deliverance and survival for the employees caught in the middle of this most real nightmare.

“Fun With Dick and Jane” asks the proverbial question, “What is the difference between a corporate crook and a bank robber?”

We float into the picture perfect neighborhood of our main characters in sunny California in the year 2000, and the whisper of a wave of corporate scandals is heard, like the breeze off the Pacific Ocean. Dick Harper (fabulously limber and gung-ho comedian Jim Carrey) and his lovely wife, Jane (delightful Téa Leoni) live within the dreamlike culture of high powered, high paying jobs, high tech appliances and high stress living. They’ve got it all and are loving every minute of it.

They may be a bit preoccupied with succeeding, though, and not spending enough time with their little son. He speaks Spanish more often then English, as he is around the housekeeper more than his parents. This ability will be more a detriment then an asset to his parents later on in the film. Not to mention, the Spanish-speaking house keeper has a lisp along with a heavy accent, and to Mr. Harper’s chagrin, every time she utters his name, “Richard,” it always comes out as “retard.”

One fine day, Dick is called up to the illustrious “52nd Floor” of Globodine where he gets the promotion of his dreams as the new VP In Charge Of Communications. Their lives change to upscale in an instant as Dick and Jane conclude it is about time for her to stay home with little Billy so that Jane can finally teach him English. They also indulge in a new lawn and some other fine and costly home improvements.

In the middle of this whirl wind, and without any previous knowledge of how to conduct himself, Dick is hurried onto the set of “Money Life” to represent Globodine on national TV. What starts out as an honor and a definite rush for Dick, ends up in utter devastation as Ralph Nader hammers Dick for answers to Globodine’s deceitful and dishonest financial dealings. A rattled Dick assures Globodine will share company documents to prove they are an honest business institution. This is the beginning of the end.

The film’s musical score sets the tone perfectly in nearly every scene, and we open the next one to Dr. John’s rendition of “Right Place, Wrong Time.” The next day, Dick arrives at an office in utter chaos, as everyone is running for cover over the corporate scandal he has inadvertently exposed.

Dick comes to the mind-boggling conclusion, he was just a patsy lured into a corporate corruption scandal that has now bombed out of control. On the same day as the bottom drops out at Globodine and Dick looses his cushy new job, Jane quits her job to stay home with her boy. Now the fun with Dick and Jane truly begins as the Harpers make a fast, hilarious skid into poverty.

Worse turns to worse, as Dick and Jane try every means imaginable to stay afloat and not lose the house. There’s not much equity, since it was purchased with Globodine stocks as well as the Globodine savings, stock holdings and bonds they were banking for a rainy day. Oh yes, and the Globodine pension which now is virtually nonexistent! Now they know they must resort to desperate means if they are going to survive. How can little Billy live without his big screen plasma TV?

What ensues is the most hilarious slap-stick that I’ve seen in a while. It was a hoot to see Jim Carrey back in comic stride, but this time with his dramatic side still intact. The funny scenes were belly laughers, and the sprinkling of drama was just right. Carrey and Leoni are great together—a team of comedic imagination. As one viewer put it, “He’s rubber. She’s Teflon. Watch him slide off her nerves. It’s good to see Leoni purely enjoying herself after the impossible stress of [uptight and too repressive] “Spanglish”; she gets to be a comedian again…”

However, from a Christian viewpoint, there are problems with this story. Due to some sexual references and profanity, parents must use caution. The profanity is sparse, but when it pops up, it is sharp. The f-word is uttered one time as more of a blurt than seemingly intentional. My advice is that this film should be limited to adults (no one under the age of 17). There is a scene where prostitution is considered, although not really taken seriously, as an option to the Harper’s monetary intake. The excitement of “stealing” gets the two main characters “sexually charged,” and although just spoofing all those shoot-em-up movies (i.e., “Mr and Mrs Smith”) that show the leads being attracted sexually by their illicit actions. (Of course, youngsters and pre-teens may not understand that.) There was a scene where the action wasn’t making me feel uncomfortable, but the background music was! As the characters are running around stealing and conniving, the spiritual song “Help Me Jesus” plays. I felt it was very inappropriate, but therein apparently lies the humor—because it was so contrary to what the characters were doing.

Parents should beware that this is a movie in which some characters feel a sense of entitlement. They believe their situation justifies stealing from others, in part because they feel cheated and stolen from. Some characters drink, and one abuses alcohol to help numb his feelings.

Writers Nicholas Stoller and Judd Apatow’s “Dick and Jane” remake is more devilish than the original version—hitting its targets with the reckless glee required for a round of comic Bonnie and Clydeish “fun,”. It may recycle the 1977 original, but please note this “Fun With Dick and Jane” kicks it up a notch by plugging into today’s intolerance, cynicism, and ambivalence toward the world’s mega companies and what they’ve managed to do to way too many hardworking families.

Director Dean Parisot has directed episodes of “Monk” as well as Bakersfield, P.D., and the “Galaxy Quest” sci-fi spoof of my most favorite TV show ever “Star Trek”. For “Dick and Jane”, his touch is light, and his pacing is speedy without too much sophomoric humor—although it shows up now and then in Carreys work. (You can’t have Carrey humor without the over the top facial and body expressions. Without them, he just wouldn’t be Jim Carrey.)

Good actors who turn up in microscopic parts, include Stacey Travis, Laurie Metcalf, and John Michael Higgins. Ralph Nader has a cameo, too, and there’s a fine lampoon of Lou Dobbs. The underappreciated Richard Jenkins does find time to pocket a few scenes. He plays a senior corporate crook who’s now the spineless drunk helping Dick and Jane get revenge on Big Corporate Dog, Jack McCallister.

Families who see this movie should talk about the corporate scandals listed at the end. After they have done all these unlawful deeds, what will Dick and Jane do next? Were they right to try for revenge themselves, or is that something God will take care of in their lives? Will God forgive them automatically, or should Dick and Jane repent and ask for forgiveness?

On the lighter side, this film is obviously not meant to be taken seriously. It takes a very painful subject and helps people cope with it through laughter. Perhaps it will release some of the tension built by real-life scandals. People have been taken advantage of by corporate gluttony. “Dick and Jane” allows audiences to vicariously get back at the big dogs without inflicting real harm. The character of Jack McCallister (Alec Baldwin) represents all that is evil in the greed of men in high positions. The audience has “Fun With Dick and Jane” as they get Jack to give back to every employee that which he has taken, in a satisfying and humorous conclusion.

Violence: Mild / Profanity: Mild / Sex/Nudity: Mild

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—Recently my girlfriend and I went and saw this film and were both pleasantly suprised. Judging by the trailer we did not know what to expect, although it looked as if it had potential. Jim Carrey was funny as usual, and Téa Leoni was pretty good. I must say and the ending was good. Now the negative: while there was some language the F-word was used once, and I found it unecessary. Also the consequences of their crimes seemed to be missing from the film. I recommend this movie overall, but parents with children under 13 be cautious.
My Ratings: Average / 4
—Daniel, age 24
Positive—I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. I heard some critics say that they found it difficult to root for a couple that would rob small businesses. But really the movie was so light hearted that it didn’t take too much suspension of disbelief to excuse this minor slip-up. After all, they could have just as easily robbed big name gas stations and big name coffee shops. And in the end the robberies’ role in the movie wasn’t all that big. Besides, the couple commented that they would try to give back to society, which they did in the end, sort of.

I went into this movie thinking that it would be all about these two committing dozens of robberies, like a comedic Bonnie and Clyde duo. But it was actually more about how they coped with the Enron like situation they were in. I felt that this movie illustrated very beautifully how a husband and wife should cope with hardship. Now understand that I don’t mean that couples today should start robbing neighborhood mom and pop shops. What I mean is that couple’s should look to each other for strength. The beauty of this movie was that no matter what happened, the couple remained unified. Very refreshing for a Hollywood movie.

Everything that affected one spouse affected the other spouse. Each situation that came up, they handled TOGETHER. When Dick got his promotion he encouraged his wife to quit the job she hated. It was so beautiful. I felt such love when Dick brought this up. And she was so appreciative that he could provide that for her, even if it didn’t work out in the end. Hmmm… Why couldn’t she get her job back? They didn’t explain that. But let’s get back on topic.

The couple showed more and more love and unity the more desperate the situation got. The most disconnected the couple were was when Dick robbed the neighborhood lawns of patches of grass so he could have his own lawn back. But this event actually displayed an already strong sense of unity. When Jane woke up in the morning and Dick showed her their new lawn, he treated the entire grass crime spree as if it was a wonderful present for his wife. It was almost as if he did it all for her. It was a very touching moment. And she reciprocated, even though we as the audience knew that the new lawn looked utterly horrible.

And finally, later on when Dick decided to go rob a store for the first time, she jumped out of bed to tag along, jokingly saying, “I have to see this. You need a wheelman don’t you?” Hilarious. It might seem a bit thin of an excuse to explain why the wife tagged along for a robbery when most wives would try to stop her husband. But really it wasn’t so out of place. They really laid the groundwork… they spent good time to develop the desperation necessary to convince me that this couple WOULD resort to crime to pay the bills. It took only a small leap to force them over the edge. Granted, Dick’s leap was a bit more dramatic and logical and Jane went over the line much easier when most wives would be more resistant, but really it didn’t bother me all that much.

My only real complaint is that the bad guy didn’t get it in the end. Yeah, he lost money, but he wasn’t arrested or even embarrassed. He was actually a hero in the end. Not good. He’s the bad guy for goodness’ sake! Oh, also Dick and Jane didn’t really seem to make amends for their crimes.

To sum up, this movie was about a strong unified couple dealing with crisis. It used a rather Cliché device (Enron) to give the story some rather unnecessary relevance, but I’m sure many victims of the Enron scandal got a lot of release by watching it, and it did give a good backdrop for the story. The flaws were few and minor and overall the feeling I got from this movie was very positive because the duo and chemistry between Dick and Jane was very good. I believed that they were married. I believed that they loved being married to each other and I believed that they would grow through struggle. 4 stars from me. And that’s pretty good for a comedy.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Alex, age 36 (USA)
Positive—This movie was not only very funny and worth every minute of my time, it surprised me how clean it was. Not once during the duration of my viewing was I offended at the material in the movie. Irreverent references to deity were rare, as well as profanity in general. This film is definitely one I will own.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4
—Bryce, age 19
Neutral
Neutral—Let me start off by saying that I thoroughly enjoyed “Bruce Almighty”, “Liar Liar” and “The Truman Show”, however, I thought that “Ace Ventura” was completely lame. This movie kind of teeters in-between both. “Fun with Dick and Jane” is the story of a loving husband who becomes the Vice President of a very large company, only to fine out that he is one of the escape goats of an Enron-type scandal. After desperately looking for work and being refused by everyone, Dick and Jane decide to seek other means of making money. By robbing banks, liquor stores, and even the local jewelry shop. When they finally run out of ideas, they contrive a scheme to rob 400 million dollars from his self absorbed and ruthless boss.

…There are “Dumb and Dumber” type movies, and there are fun romantic comedies. This movie puts the “Dumb and Dumber” character into the role of Dick. Many of his absurdities just did not fit into the movie and felt out of place. I did laugh at some of the comedy, because, lets face it, when you see a family so poor that cannot afford water, so they go and take a shower in their next door neighbor’s sprinkler, that’s just down right funny. However, those clever and witty moments were few and far between.

…there were many things left unclear by the end. Jim Carrey is up for indictment, and the movie ends without telling you anything of the outcome. You never really see how the heist takes place, and you are led to believe that he made out with the money without a hitch. The movie takes place in the year 2000 which really makes no sense at all, at one point you even see a Gore/Leiberman sign in the background. Why not make the setting current, why change the timeframe? There are many little inconsistencies that take place which do not seem to add up.

The directing in the movie is fine, the script writing is weak, and the acting is just good. …an enjoyable movie, but do not expect a whole lot in the way of content. I did laugh quite a bit, mostly because I just like Jim Carrey… but like I said the real zingers were few and far between.

…I cannot recommend this movie to kids because there is quite a bit of sexual humor and dialogue. Obviously with his name being “Dick,” they love to make jokes as to such, through the whole movie. There is also quite a bit of foul language as well. …
My Ratings: Offensive / 2
—John Kehrli, age 31
Neutral—This movie has it’s moments, but is not nearly as funny as “Bruce Almighty” or “Liar Liar”. The film is kind of slow, and the funny parts are there, but not enough to make it a film I would want to see again. There is some bad language and suggestive scenes.
My Ratings: Average / 3
—Scott, age 32
Neutral—…Certainly no one under 13 would realy appreciate anything this film has to offer anyway. Also younger than that would not be appropriate because the main characters resort to robbery (and get excited about it) to solve their troubles. A talk would have to follow this movie to make sure it is understood it is wrong, but the movie makes fun of it. SEE it sounds confusing anyway.

It should be understood that I am not really a fan of Jim Carrey. I have enjoyed him in some films and thought he was funny in his early years when he was on a sit-com… In this movie he acts like one of those inept people on the infomercials that can’t do some simple domestic act so they need this specialized product to make life easier (like flip a pancake). I know it is slapstick and that appeals to some people more than it does to me, but it just did not fit, like in the infomercials. They did not use such humor excessively and that saves the movie. There were other forms of light-hearted parts that were supposed to be funny and some did chuckle at. Although generally I felt that the Carrey type humor was just thrown in there overdone and to me not well done, just to get a laugh. The theater was completely full and many were laughing all throughout the movie. The main review above is well done and others comments as well. The scene with the family washing in someones sprinklers got a few chuckles, not the laughs other parts got, but to me they did not lead into it well. …Personaly, some parts were light-hearted but not funny.

The writing directing part is mediocre in my opinion. They did not work very hard to make it all flow together well. You have to concede some ideas. For me, the plot has to be stronger if it is going to rely so much on slapstick, and it just was not there. At one point Carrey (Dick) is trying to rob a store and unexplicably can’t or does not talk but makes a noise like his toungue is stuck to the roof of his mouth while poorly attempting to get his gun out of the his pocket. Yes, that can be slapstick, but here it seemed dumb and relying on it too much. You just had to give too much. I guess we are supposed to think he is too scared to talk? Maybe, and that makes sense, but even if that was supposed to be assumed it just did not work.

I don’t have money for movie tickets so when I do see one in the theater it needs to be good, so it feels like you get your money’s worth. This is the kind of movie I would rather rent on cheap night.

I am sure if you are a Carrey fan, and not so demanding as I, you will still get some enjoyment from this movie, as long as you don’t bring young children. Still there is no way this will go down as great movie making. I did not suffer watching it but did not feel it was worth the money. I will give it a 2 out of 5, perhaps it would have gotten higher by ½ or 1 point more, if it were rented instead.
My Ratings: Average / 2
—Dale, age 44
Neutral—Actually pretty funny, and I’m not even a fan of Jim Carey. There are a few implied sex scenes, but nothing shown. Two phrases of son of **** and one f-word. Crime is shown as a good last resort, and Carey robs stores and flashes a gun around a lot. All in all, probably harmless for older teens and adults, but not a good idea for little kids.
My Ratings: Offensive / 2
—Dana, age 20
Negative
Negative—It’s funny if you haven’t seen the trailers, because all the good funny scenes are shown already. Also, I don’t understand the moral behind the story when Dick and Jane broke one of the Ten Commandents: Thou shall not steal and didn’t get punished for it (e.g., go to Jail).
My Ratings: Average / 3
—Racy, age 25
Comments from young people
Positive—I thought that overall the movie was good. In the begining of the film Dick was a good guy, he had good morals and was a pretty positive character. Jane was positive as well; she was overall a nice caring person. Then Dick lost his Job and at the same time Jane quit. They still kept their morals and were okay, but as time went on they had to lose lots of things like their yard, their household items, furniture, etc. Pretty soon we started to hear some cussing. Then they (Dick and Jane) started to go down hill. Dick (trying to kept his family from being evicted from their house) felt he had to steal and rob from stores so he could provide for his family. Obviously that’s not a good idea; their cussing became stronger when Jane (for no reason at all except to get the audience to laugh) said the F-word. Now I rate this movie positve because it honestly was an overall good film. The acting was good, the directing was good, and the humor in it was really funny, aside from a 1 or 2 sexual jokes. Honestly, I was surprised and pleased that the directors didn’t use Dick’s name as a rude term. Overall, I’d give Dick and Jane an A.
My Ratings: Average / 3
—D. Robbie, age 15
Positive—I thought this movie was very funny. The only thing I would object to was after he was given the promotion they went to celebrate and say “lets have sex, Saturday.” There were no sex scenes, and they only made-out once. It had a lot less crude jokes than other movies with Jim Carey. I liked the way they poked fun at “the ideal job” (corporate world, especially Enron and the supposed ideal people (Dick and Jane).

I didn’t think that they made crude jokes with the name. Turning to the life of crime was pretty funny I have to admit; I laughed most of the time. Morally robbing isn’t good; its very bad. I liked how they never used a real gun though, and how after one of them cursed, they told each other “don’t curse!” There is very little cursing. I think they only said the f-word once. Overall, I thought this movie was hilarious, but I would not recommend this as a family movie. I think the rating, as a PG-13 is correct. I thought it was worth seeing though. I think most of the jokes have to do with corporate stuff, and if you don’t understand the corporate world and stocks, you won’t think its very funny.
My Ratings: Average / 4
—Jenn, age 16
Positive—I saw this movie, thinking it would be an enjoyable film and that’s excactly how I felt when I came out. The movie portrayed a family that had an ordinary life and were doing fairly good until they both went downhill with their jobs… shows how they struggle to live with todays life. It shows how life can be at times, and how some people will go that far just to live, it happens. That’s why this movie was just awesome.
My Ratings: Good / 4
—Mikael, age 13
Movie Critics
…All comedy is redirected rage, and this Dick and Jane gets that. …Dick and Jane are fun enough, just not nearly as much fun as they should have been…
—Orlando Sentinel, Roger Moore
…uneven and disappointing results. Surprisingly unfunny at times, the film is, at its best, mildly amusing, but its own sense of moral righteousness comes across as mean-spirited…
—Crosswalk, Christian Hamaker
…lifeless (and misguided) remake… full of missed opportunities and wrong turns… Jesus’ and God’s names are interjected about 10 times. …
—Plugged In, Christopher Lyon
…Fun? Not so much…
—E! Online
…A shrill remake that opts for shtick over satire…
—The Hollywood Reporter, Sheri Linden