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.
- Dean Parisot
- Judd Apatow, Nicholas Stoller
- Jim Carrey, Téa Leoni, Alec Baldwin, Jeff Garlin, Angie Harmon, Richard Jenkins, Carlos Jacott, John Michael Higgins, Richard Burgi
- Slant is reaching more readers than ever before, but advertising revenue across the Internet is falling fast, hitting independently owned and operated publications like ours the hardest. We’ve watched many of our fellow media sites fall by the way side in recent years, but we’re determined to stick around.
We’ve never asked our readers for financial support before, and we’re committed to keeping our content free and accessible—meaning no paywalls or subscription fees. If you like what we do, however, please consider becoming a Slant patron.
You can also make a one-time donation via PayPal: