Reviewed by: Sheri McMurray
|Featuring:||Jim Carrey, Téa Leoni, Alec Baldwin, Richard Jenkins, Clint Howard, Angie Harmon, more »|
|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.