Fun With Dick and Jane
2005Director: Dean Parisot
Cast: Jim Carrey, Téa Leoni, Alec Baldwin
here certainly isn't a 9/11 rule with things of this nature, but part of the point of making a film either documenting true accounts or satirizing a situation that appears similar to the real world is actually having something to say about the subject in question. It doesn't have to be something profound or deep, not something richly complex or politicized--not necessarily. Perhaps, just something of merit or of note...maybe even something entertaining—a purpose the viewer can latch onto and understand as the reason they saw what they just saw on the screen. I don't believe any such reason can be found for Fun With Dick and Jane existing.
Dean Parisot's film, a remake of the 1977 picture of the same name, takes what could have been an interesting or even enjoyable satire and turns it into a ridiculously awkward and unfunny string of set-up/ joke/set-up/joke/JOKE FALLS FLAT sequences, linked together by lazy storytelling and bad judgment. Basically, a feature length sitcom, Dick and Jane takes a paper-thin premise and runs with it—until it all but blows away.
Dick (Jim Carrey) works for an Enron-like company, which goes Enron-like under, leaving him holding the bag, so to speak. He and Jane (Téa Leoni), still with bills to pay and mouths to feed, turn to what is supposed to be a hilariously wacky life of crime in order to make ends meet. Yeah, what you saw in the trailer? That’s what you get. The problem is that, as a farce or humorous/ironic commentary on white-collar criminals, the film tends to fall flat simply because it is far too on the nose. It ends up as fruitful an exercise as spotting the pop culture references in Family Guy. It's all just too easy. On the other hand, as a straight-up, screwball comedy, the film just doesn't have the comedic brass to sustain any sort of humorous tread. Sure, there are funny moments, but they are far too spotty to be genuinely memorable.
There doesn’t seem to be any contention that the original was some brilliant social parable, but as a capable comedy of errors, it was a marginal success. The film had control of its aims, as well as its actors. Jane Fonda and George Segal, as the leads, had an odd appeal and were actually believable as husband and wife, not to mention actual human beings. Here, Dick and Jane are just sort of odd together, and add up to little more than caricatures in a wholly irresponsible way. Carrey, who has proven, by turns, that he can be both the definition and antithesis of Funny, is in fucking hyper-drive here, while Leoni's Jane is, I imagine, supposed to counteract his buffoonery as to form some sort of normal balance between the two? Unfortunately for the film, she really just comes off as bored. So, in a sense, you've got a husband on speed and wife on Valium. Hey, maybe this is an even more apt social commentary than the film’s creators had counted on!
With all the shifting political climates, general social tensions and cultural divisions, it's not hard to see why one might want to find a goddamned reason to laugh at it all. Perhaps we do take ourselves a bit too seriously. And you can definitely appreciate the general motivation behind a movie like Dick and Jane being made. However, the sad truth is that the final result is an apathetic film with a remarkably lazy sense of humor that, at first, seems to reach a bit too far…then stops reaching all together.
By: Daniel Rivera
Published on: 2006-01-23
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