FUN WITH DICK AND JANEPG-13
It's fun aplenty and all with Dick as Jim Carrey takes the wheel of this previously test-driven vehicle about an upwardly mobile couple driven to crime. Carrey easily passes his driving test by careening through the kind of shtick, antics, pratfalls, contortions and double-takes that are his forte.
Updated from the late '70s when aerospace downsizing sent George Segal and Jane Fonda, in the 1977 original, onto their madcap crime spree, the current Fun with Dick and Jane has Carrey a year 2000 double-punch casualty of corporate corruption and the dotcom bubble burst.
The film is an entertaining and zippy 87 minutes, but far less witty and inventive than similar lowbrow comedies like Dodgeball, Anchorman or Wedding Crashers, all of which proved that theatre audiences today want big-screen idiocies leavened with smarts and surprises.
Fun with Dick and Jane, does, however, keep us in our seats, a fact that has much to do with the tight arc of the original story. As screenwriters Judd Apatow and Nicholas Stoller, a TV writer debuting here with his first feature screenplay credit, kick off their retooling of the original concept, Dick Harper (Carrey) has just been upped to VP of corporate communications for Globodyne, a generic, high-tech dotcom. Before he can issue his first press release, he is called upon to defend the company's plummeting stock on a national cable finance show, moments before Globodyne goes bust, less a victim of the 2000 dotcom crash than the corporate malfeasance of evil Globodyne COO and founder Jack McCallister (Alec Baldwin). Dick's defense falls flat only moments before Globodyne does same.
Like his Globo colleagues, Dick is left with nothing-no job, no pension, no recourse. Job prospects dry up as Dick must compete with the legions in the same boat, wearing the same sole-worn shoes and sporting the same who-cares resumes. Dick also has that family to support-wife Jane (Téa Leoni) plus kid and dog. And there's the typical upwardly mobile homestead to maintain-the comfortable California suburban with pool and grounds requiring maintenance.
So unemployed Dick is soon in deep dirt, metaphorically and literally speaking, when their new lawn is repossessed. The house also loses its electricity, furniture and the food in the fridge, before Dick and Jane are in danger of losing the house itself.
The couple join the soup-kitchen and day-laborer lines in order to pocket a few bucks. When even low-end jobs prove futile or downright dangerous, they turn to convenience-store holdups before their crime spree escalates into bank robberies. Hey, it's a living and what this victimized couple deserves-this latter a critical point that the savvy filmmakers and their accommodating performers make perfectly clear.
Of course, sweet revenge is on the way as Dick and Jane corral former Globodyne CFO turned freelance alcoholic Frank (Richard Jenkins) into a scheme that will hijack Jack's ill-gotten fortune from his Cayman Islands bank into their hands and, ultimately, into the needy hands of Globodyne's ripped-off employees.
This latest Dick and Jane is diverting fluff but, with so many corrupt companies and execs as inspirations and headline fixtures, one wishes for more biting satire. For instance, the very gifted Alec Baldwin-whose swaggering, sneaky, glib mogul character is redolent of several corporate evildoers-could have taken his greedy macho villain to savagely funny and knowing levels had the script permitted.
But Carrey and co-star Leoni's diverting voyage to retribution and salvation do make this Dick and Jane fun enough. And cameos from Ralph Nader and "Curb Your Enthusiasm" co-star Jeff Garlin add to the fun.