Fun With Dick and Jane

Well, not a lot of fun, to be accurate.

Released in 2005, certified UK-PG. Reviewed on 10 Feb 2006 by Scott Morris
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Hooray! Another remake! I suppose this exhuming of 1977 George Segal / Jane Fonda vehicle Fun With Dick And Jane at least has the benefit of semi-obscurity. Not that it's not a fondly remembered film by some, but it certainly doesn't have the enduring cachet of, say The Manchurian Candidate or Get Carter. If anything this makes it an even odder choice of film, but that's of little relevance to the matter in hand.

Dick Harper (Jim Carrey) thinks he's hit the big time after a promotion to a PR VP position at Globodyne, convincing his wife Jane (T?a Leoni) to quit her job as 'person that gets screamed at' in a travel agent's office. Glory is short lived, with Dick left humiliated by a TV appearance defending Globodyne's performance while their stock price simultaneously falls through the floor thanks to dodgy financial dealings on top exec Frank (Richard Jenkins) and CEO Jack (Alec Baldwin)'s parts. The Globodyne story proceeds to Chapter Eleven.

As the Harper's pensions and life savings were tied into Globodyne stocks, this leaves them in something of a pickle. After a lengthy search for alternative VP positions fails miserably, Dick can't even land a more menial job that would pay enough to allow him to keep up the mortgage repayments on his house. Pushed to the limits by threats of repossession, they turn to a life of crime. Eventually. I was under the impression that this was sort of the central thrust of the piece, so the length of time it takes to get here comes as something of a surprise.

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Robbing innocent folks turns out not to cause them much moral difficulty, but they'd rather get revenge with Dick's old bosses. So off they go and do that, humorous situations largely failing to arise along the way. The cleverest thing in Fun With Dick and Jane by some considerable margin, sadly, comes at the start of the closing credits giving special thanks to Ken Lay of Enron infamy and several WorldCom execs. This would not bode well for the film, but I'm not altogether sure that the word bode can be used retroactively. However, I like the word bode, so let's use it as much as possible. Bode.

See, the thing about Jim Carrey films is that their quality is often decided by what version of Jim Carrey shows up. He's capable of some fantastic comic acting, and if you want proof of that away you to watch Man on the Moon and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. If that's the Carrey who signed the contract, all is well with the world. Otherwise, you get Jim Carrey doing 'the Jim Carrey thing', mugging, gooning, gurning and chewing his way through all available scenery. It might be what brought him to the dance and, saints preserve us, still seems to be popular, but every time he starts this rubber-faced Ace Ventura drivel I wish him banished to a far off land full of sharp pointy things and broken glass.

While the trailer would lead you into thinking he's in full-on Jim Carrey mode from the outset, thankfully it's reined in somewhat, reducing it to tolerable levels. This casting question answered to a degree, we're left with the other pressing issue: Why T?a Leoni? To this, science has no answer.

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Truthfully, there's little to get wound up over in Fun With Dick and Jane. It doesn't have the same depths of tragic anti-funny that, say, anything with Steve Martin in it plumbs on a regular basis, but it's not particularly amusing either. Despite the title, there really isn't much fun to be had with this flick. It's a succession of competently performed tired old gags with the odd bright spot, mainly from Alec Baldwin. It ain't good, but at the same time it ain't bad enough to start demanding heads must roll. At a stretch you could call it 'average', but only because the surfeit of Steve Martin films has been dragging the average down of late.

I have no axe to grind with this film. In fact, I don't have an axe, and even if I did I would be unsure that this film would be a suitable axe-sharpening tool. There is, however, no real reason for this film to exist in this world, a comedy that isn't particularly funny being of as much use as a chocolate fireguard. The world is not significantly better or worse for the creation of this film, and you won't be significantly better or worse off for seeing it, but there's better ways to spend your time in this life.

Were I in the business of passing quantifiable judgements, I'd award this 2/5 TippyMarks.

Dean Parisot
Cast list:
Jim Carrey (Dick Harper)
T?a Leoni (Jane Harper)
Richard Jenkins (Frank Boscombe)
Alec Baldwin (Jack)