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See "Dick & Jane" stumble
Seattle Times movie critic
Would somebody, please, find the right comic vehicle for Téa Leoni? It's been a long time since "Flirting with Disaster" established her as a screen presence to watch. Dean Parisot's "Fun with Dick & Jane," a loose remake of the 1977 Jane Fonda/George Segal comedy, is better than her glum previous outing, "Spanglish," which paired her with the deadpan Adam Sandler and wasted her deft comic talents. A lean, googly-eyed blonde, Leoni looks like she'd be right at home in '30s screwball comedy; she's got a charmingly offbeat, slightly slurry voice and an unexpected way of twisting a line of dialogue into a loopy bow.
Unfortunately, here she's paired with Jim Carrey, whose much broader comedic style tends to crush everything in its wake. The two play Dick and Jane Harper, happy suburbanities with a cute little son and a busy, upwardly mobile lifestyle. It's the year 2000, and Dick is pleased when he's finally offered a long-awaited promotion to vice president at his company, Globodyne. But the company quickly implodes after a Enron-ish scandal. Dick and Jane soon find themselves broke, and turn to crime — at first ineptly, then with increasing skill — to make ends meet.
"Fun with Dick & Jane," with Jim Carrey, Téa Leoni, Alec Baldwin, Richard Jenkins. Directed by Dean Parisot, from a screenplay by Judd Apatow and Nicholas Stoller. 85 minutes. Rated PG-13 for brief language, some sexual humor and occasional humorous drug references. Several theaters.
Parisot ("Galaxy Quest") finds a funny comic rhythm in the film's early scenes, and some nice sight gags: Globodyne's parking lot looks like a BMW dealership, and the employees scurry around in matching, inoffensive gray suits. And Dick's moment of disaster is nicely played. On the television show "Moneyline," he stammers excuses against accusations of the company's insider trading, as a bar graph shows the stock in free fall (a ticker shows the real-time headline "Globodyne Stock Nearly Worthless"), and a talking-head Ralph Nader (yes, Ralph Nader) lectures him on his ethics.
But though it begins as a funny satire of corporate excess, the movie too quickly runs out of ideas. Carrey (whose face is looking more and more creased with each movie; perhaps all those years of mugging are catching up with him) does nothing unexpected; he throws himself into the movie's physical comedy but doesn't bother finding a character within it. This leaves Leoni stranded, although she gets a few moments to shine — most notably a funny, slightly breathless monologue in which she explains ditzily that they can't sell the house because then their son will grow up insecure and will never be able to sustain a meaningful relationship. (Well, it works when she says it.)
Alec Baldwin, whose relaxed style is a nice counterpart to Carrey, wanders amiably through the film as Dick's corrupt boss, but the rest of the cast feels as generic as those Globodyne suits. "Fun with Dick & Jane" was clearly structured around Carrey's talents (he's a producer of the film), and it's an intriguing near-miss — but it needs more fun with Jane, and less with Dick.
Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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