Fun With Dick and Jane
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Dean Parisot
scr Judd Apatow, Nicholas Stoller
with Jim Carrey, Téa Leoni, Alec Baldwin, Richard Jenkins, John Michael Higgins, Carlos Jacott, Stephnie Weir, Maggie Rowe, Angie Harmon, Michelle Arthur, Jeff Garlin, Chris Ellis
release US 21.Dec.05,
UK 20.Jan.06
05/US Columbia 1h30

Trouble is brewing: Carrey and Leoni

leoni baldwin jenkins

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Fun With Dick and Jane Fans of Jim Carrey at his most manic will enjoy this remake of the 1977 George Segal-Jane Fonda caper comedy. But anyone who likes comedy with an edge will be disappointed at the way this film abandons its clever premise.

Dick and Jane Harper (Carrey and Leoni) are living an idyllic, anonymous, upscale lifestyle. Dick is made a vice president at the mega-corporation Globodyne, then before you can say Enron, the company collapses, taking Dick with it. Unable to find a new job, the Harpers sink into poverty and desperation, eventually turning to a life of crime to make ends meet. Finally, they team up with a former colleague (Jenkins) to make the top boss (Baldwin) pay for what he's done.

There's a superb script in here somewhere, with an astutely comedic take on the recent corporate scandals running alongside a lacerating satire of middle class consumerism. Unfortunately, little of that remains in the film. Director Parisot (who made the gem Galaxy Quest) seems to develop mixamitosis whenever his star and, more tellingly, producer is on screen. The camera stares like a bunny in headlamps as Carrey grimaces and flails. And it's just not funny.

When he's not clowning, Carrey actually creates an intriguing character and makes the most of some clever scenes, especially when he's working with the likeable and up-for-anything Leoni. And both Jenkins and Baldwin have their moments too. But none of the madcap slapstick set pieces work--the facial deformity episodes, the immigration escapade, the bank heist, the complicated final caper. It's consistently watchable, but we only laugh at a few throwaway gags that flit across the screen.

Besides the general lack of actual humour, the movie's main failing is in its refusal to take hold of the story's more serious undercurrents. Poking fun at these elements would have brought the humour to life, but the filmmakers only graze against relevant, identifiable, ripe-for-picking issues on their way to the next bit of pointlessly wacky shtick. By the end, you're still waiting for all that fun the title promised.

cert 12 themes, language, innuendo 20.Dec.05

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© 2005 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall