Social commentary mingles with stupid comedy in Fun with Dick and Jane, a flaccid, humorless update of the 1977 George Segal-Jane Fonda romp about a well-off couple who turn to petty crime after the ruthless American capitalist machine royally screws them over. Dick (Jim Carrey) is a wealthy exec at Globodyne Corporation who’s hung out to dry by his boss Jack McCallister (Alec Baldwin) after the bigwig bankrupts the company and absconds with $400 million. Destitute and increasingly desperate, Dick and wife Jane (Téa Leoni) become thieves in order to maintain their beloved affluence and social position, first robbing head shops and coffee joints, and, later, banks. Dick and Jane’s success (and enthusiastic enjoyment) at stealing should be ironic considering that McCallister’s large-scale larceny was responsible for their predicament, but Dean Parisot’s film is far too facile to fully exploit such a paradox, which remains woefully underdeveloped (and often totally ignored) as the couple begins taking to their new careers as crooks. With President Bush claiming on TV, “Ours is an age of unmeasured prosperity,” and Baldwin’s Ken Lay-ish McCallister doing a bird-hunting variation on the infamous Fahrenheit 9/11 clip of W. asking reporters to “Now watch this shot,” screenwriters Nicholas Stoller and Judd Apatow (writer-director of this year’s substantially funnier The 40-Year-Old Virgin) seek to indict both the masters of industry who perpetrate corporate malfeasance without conscience and the current administration that coddles them. Yet by reveling in Dick and Jane’s lame illicit activities—as well as by briefly using the plight of Hispanic migrant workers for cheap laughs—the film’s condemnation of rampant white-collar greed is undercut by its twin beliefs in the justness of maintaining social status at any cost and the sanctity of upper-class extravagance (Dick and Jane’s thievery being okay because, without the cash, they wouldn’t be able to finish constructing their backyard hot tub!). Though in the final accounting, nothing in Fun with Dick and Jane is more indulgent than the perpetually hammy Carrey, whose rubber-faced mugging and pratfalling may be in keeping with the bouncy cartoonishness of Parisot’s direction (as well as the intro references to the Dick and Jane early-reader books), but nonetheless prove even more unpleasantly excessive than the ill-gotten gains reaped by Enron and WorldCom’s corrupt CEOs.
You can't blame the fugly colors on the transfer-they belong entirely to the almost nonexistent cinematography by Jerzy Zielinski. But is it part of the film's big-business commentary that all those suits and ties look so unappetizing? Who cares? The print is clean-not exactly vibrant but never soft-with the worst of it being the occasional edge enhancement. In terms of audio, there's not a whole lot of expansive sound work in the film to flaunt the disc's Dolby capabilities, but Jim Carrey's shrill performance is clear throughout. That's all that matters, right?
The commentary by writers Judd Apatow and Nicholas Stoller and director Dean Parisot is not, as promised by one of these guys, the funniest track of its kind ever recorded, but it has some really odd-ball moments: they admit to being "Hollywood pinkos," confuse their Baldwins at one point (thinking Alec, not Stephen, is the Jesus-loving Republican), and liken the film to The Manchurian Candidate in that it will make you a liberal. (The highlight of the track, though, is when they valiantly discuss the original film's "Don Rickles-style" humor and how they struggled to update the film without being too politically correct.) Rounding things out is a three-minute, all-Carrey gag reel, six dumb deleted scenes, a bunch of previews, and a really funny collection of press junket highlights.
See DVD come out. See people with brains not buy it.