FUN WITH DICK & JANE
** (out of 5)
December 21, 2005
Jim Carrey as DICK HARPER
Tea Leoni as JANE HARPER
Alec Baldwin as JACK MCCALLISTER
Richard Jenkins as FRANK BASCOMBE
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Directed by: Dean Parisot
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
“Fun with Dick & Jane” is something I like to refer to as a “teeter-totter movie.” From the trailers, things could go either way. Going into the movie, I figured it was either going to suck, or it was going to be pretty good.
I was only partially wrong. It didn’t totally suck.
The first red flag for me was when I saw Jim Carrey’s name appear as a producer credit. Normally, this isn’t a problem. It’s usually just a major star getting his hands into the potential profits. However, word on the street is that Carrey can be a bit of a meddler. And in most movies, meddling by the actors is a bad thing. If you don’t believe me, go rent “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle” or “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace,” and remind yourself what damage an actor can do to a script.
Jim Carrey is an incredibly talented guy. He can do both comedy and drama. However, his comedy is best when he doesn’t have final say. And I’m willing to bet that he had final say with “Fun with Dick & Jane.”
The film is a remake of a 70s creation with George Segal and Jane Fonda. I’ve never seen that, but it doesn’t exactly rise to the top of any “100 Greatest Films of All Time” list, so I’m guessing I didn’t miss much.
In this version, Jim Carrey plays Dick Harper, a corporate pawn who is just dying for his chance to climb the corporate ladder. His biggest problem is that he has the nasty habit of always doing the right thing. It lands him in hot water when his company’s CEO raids the company’s coffers, then hangs Dick out to dry and holding the blame ball.
The company collapses, and Dick’s seemingly perfect life begins to crumble. After struggling with how to squeak by, Dick and Jane eventually turn to a life of crime. After all, they’ve played it straight all their lives, and look where it got them.
I like both Jim Carrey and Tea Leoni, but they just didn’t click in this film. It reminded me of what it was like to watch the remake of “The Stepford Wives” in which Matthew Broderick and Nicole Kidman just consumed air together in a scene rather than playing off each other.
There are a few funny moments, but too few. The biggest jokes were either telegraphed or poorly delivered. Leoni has good comic timing, but too much of the focus went on the producer of the film. Jim Carrey’s bag of tricks is all but empty, and without his comedic forte of zaniness to let loose, he seems stale.
The film takes place in the year 2000 just when the corporate indictments of Enron and WorldCom were peeking over the horizon. There’s some serious jabs taken at the big business debacles of the early 2000s, but they were empty jabs.
I actually worked at WorldCom several years ago (although I quit my job about six months before all hell broke loose). I watched first-hand how Bernie Ebbers ran the company into the ground, watching my own stock options vaporize before my eyes. In my opinion, this film was too nice on these guys.
Maybe it’s the cynic in me, but I wanted a little more ire in the film. I was expecting a longer crime spree – which is what you’d get from the trailer. I’d rather have seen something like “Raising Arizona” in which incompetent criminals try to get what’s coming to them. Alas, “Fun with Dick & Jane” deteriorates into an attempt at an uplifting film that really never makes any sense.
And while there’s plenty funny about corporate corruption, there’s not a lot that’s funny about this movie.