Thursday, February 09, 2006


Time: 90 mins
Rating: * * 1/2
Jim Carrey and Tea Leoni as Dick and Jane
SEE Dick smile. Hear Dick sing and see him dance in the lift. Dick (Jim Carrey) is happy because he has just been promoted to vice president of communications at his company.

See Jane frown. Jane is Dick’s wife and she is unhappy with her job as a travel agent. Jane (Tea Leoni) wants to quit. See Dick and Jane hug each other. Dick and Jane are happy because he has got the promotion and she can now quit her job. They can also get a new lawn and a big new car.

See Dick run. Run Dick run. Dick is running because he has lost his job and he must race with other hopefuls to a job interview. Why has Dick lost his job? Because his company has gone bust and Dick has been made the scapegoat. Scrape, scrape, scrape. See Dick and Jane scrape for food to stay alive.

See Dick rob. Rob, rob, rob. Dick is trying to rob a convenience store so that he can pay the bills. Jane is helping him because he is not a good robber.

See Jack smile. See Jack (Alec Baldwin) hunt and play golf. Jack is Dick’s boss and he is happy because he has cheated the public and has gotten away with millions of dollars. See Dick and Jane follow Jack into the bank. What are they trying to do now...?

Fun With Dick And Jane is a remake of the 1977 movie starring George Segal and Jane Fonda. Back then, it was fun and funny because stories about a white couple in Los Angeles crashing out on the American Dream were a novelty. Now, with the Enron debacle, the times have changed and stories like this are commonplace and even cliched. Simply put, there isn’t much fun watching Dick and Jane Harper go from suburban middle-class luxury to poverty and crime after his boss, Jack McCallister, turns Globodyne into another Enron.

Sure, we sympathise with the Harpers when their electricity is cut off and they have to sell all their possessions. We sympathise with their son who is bewildered by what is happening to him. However, it is when they refuse to swallow their pride that things start getting messy and incredulous.

I am delighted that director Dean Parisot does not require Carrey to have to resort to his Ace Ventura-style schtick to get the laughs. But then he is not getting many laughs here with his slapstick either.Leoni fares a little better as the suffering wife although she shares no chemistry with Carrey. Baldwin, on the other hand, is deliciously wicked as the devil boss, while Richard Jenkins (of Six Feet Under) seems to have a great time as Jack’s stooge and chief financial officer.

The last act, in which Dick and Jane go after their villainous boss, looks over-contrived and implausible. After the 1998 economic meltdown, many people have experienced the disintegration of their social status. Most have found ways of climbing back up and comedies like this only poke fun at the wrong places.


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