Fun With Dick and Jane

  • Dean Parisot
  • 2006

This remake of a George Segal/Jane Fonda caper film of the same name sees a yuppie American couple turn to crime to fund their high-spending lifestyle when they lose their jobs. Step up Jim Carrey and Tea Leoni to fill the roles of Dick and Jane Harper in what becomes a generally enjoyable comedy, even if it is short on morals and clarity of focus.

Dick and Jane have based their lives on their fat paychecks. Living in a luxury home, they have all the appliances they need together with a landscaped garden and soon-to-be-finished hot tub. Life is sweet. Dick is a fast-rising executive at Globodyne Corporation, a name filling in for any faceless billion-dollar global company. He has just been promoted to vice president of communications and a hefty pay rise. Jane is fed up with her job at a travel agents, but now that Dick has been promoted she decides to quit her job to spend more time with their Spanish-speaking son Billy. Unfortunately that same day Globodyne goes bankrupt after its boss, Jack McCallister (Alec Baldwin) fiddled the books meaning Dick loses his pension and the Globodyne stock which was his savings. Disaster strikes as first Dick cannot find another vice president job, or any job that suits him at all, and their possessions are repossessed. Soon they turn to crime as the only way to pay off their debts.

Carrey goes overboard even by his own standards.

It is hard to take anything Dick does seriously as Carrey goes overboard even by his own standards of clowning around. Runs are exaggerated and every line requires him to pull a face before he answers. You begin to wonder how on earth Dick got to such a high ranking position. Fair play, he is always cheerful and smiling, but he is equally stupid at times. Carrey tires too hard to steal every scene in his usual goofy style seen in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (Tom Shadyac, 1994) and The Cable Guy (Ben Stiller, 1996). Leoni is pushed into the background and given little chance to make an impact.

The result of this is the movie becomes another showcase for Carrey and he does at least make the story entertaining. One memorable moment sees him drive to a job interview, park up and get out the car only to realise there are at least ten others arriving at the same time. Cue a race to the interview office amid suitcase fighting and empty water tanks rolling down stairs only to find that the cue is already hundreds of people long. While this kind of slapstick litters the film and is amusing, it is unfortunate that neither Dick nor Jane can really be identified with to truly share their pain and suffering.

It is probably best seen as a vacuous example of the consumer lifestyle.

It is only their own greed and shameless consumerism that first fuels Dick’s desire to only try for vice president jobs and then their combined effort to steal. The fact is not many people would go to such extraordinary lengths to earn a vast income when they have lost all their money. Fun With Dick and Jane seems to be saying that luxury goods such as a landscaped garden and plasma television are worth turning to crime for, rather than finding a more plausible reason for Dick and Jane’s Bonnie and Clyde (Arthur Penn, 1967) lifestyle. While that film had a dark but loveable undertone to its rebels, here they are frustratingly one-dimensional. There are political undertones to its 2000 setting with Gore/Lieberman posters littering the screen and a reference to George W. Bush’s new conference on Iraq in which he invited the press to watch his golf swing. Here McCallister invites news reporters to watch him shoot, but it is hard to fathom whether these are supposed to be anti-Republican references or just asides to the audience.

Fun With Dick and Jane is an undemanding and lightweight comedy that will please fans of Carrey. It is probably best seen as a vacuous example of the consumer lifestyle every capitalist state would like to see in everyone of us, yet it also attempts to provide an antidote to this by taking a swipe at big corporations such as Enron. Its scattergun approach prevents it from being on target most of the time, but it does hit the spot sporadically.

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