Fun With Dick and Jane

Fun With Dick and Jane

2005, PG-13, 90 min. Directed by Dean Parisot. Starring Jim Carrey, Téa Leoni, Alec Baldwin, Richard Jenkins, Jeff Garlin, Richard Burgi, Angie Harmon.

REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Dec. 23, 2005

When the first version of this movie appeared in 1977 it starred George Segal and Jane Fonda and meshed perfectly with its times – a little countercultural, a lot class-conscious, and a touch subversive. This remake arrives starring two of today’s most prominent comedy top-liners, Jim Carrey and Téa Leoni, but the movie is missing any insidious edge: There is nothing subtle or understated about this new movie’s comedic thrust. It lays out the basic plot and then tromps up and down on it. The story, about an upper-middle-class married couple who hit an unexpected downturn when the husband loses his job due to the corporate malfeasance of others, seems perfectly suited to our current era of corporate scandal as names like Enron, WorldCom, and Adelphia have become synonymous with white-collar banditry and crimes against the underclasses. Although hewing pretty closely to the original’s basic storyline, the remake shares little of the realism and down-to-earth humor that made the original work so well. In both cases, the couples turn to bank robbery to solve their financial crises, but in the new version the crimes are so overblown and badly staged that it’s impossible to believe they actually get away with them. Carrey is in one of his more volatile and frenetic modes here, behaving as though he’s acting out every idea that pops into his head. There’s little modulation to his character, and at times he’s so obnoxious that you might want to root against him rather than sympathize with his underdog status. Leoni needs to start studying the scripts she’s offered more carefully, as her recent comedy outings in James L. Brooks’ Spanglish and Woody Allen’s Hollywood Ending have simply done her wrong. Meanwhile, following his turn in Elizabethtown, Baldwin seems to have become the new go-to guy to play corporate executives. Fun With Dick and Jane is co-writer Judd Apatow's follow-up to this summer’s smash comedy, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, although it’s not likely his new film will find similar success. However, Carrey brings so much to this movie that isn’t on the written page, and yet so little of it appears to be an improvement. The actor needs a stronger controlling influence to keep his incessant spontaneity in check, which doesn’t seem likely to happen now that he’s moved into producing with this film and his previous comedy Bruce Almighty. It’s all well and good to run a scroll of corporate evildoers at the end of the film as in Dick and Jane, but if these robber barons were skewered properly along the way, such heavy-handed, last-minute tactics wouldn’t be necessary. Carrey delivers farce when what is needed is satire.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Dean Parisot Films
Bill & Ted Face the Music
Can we all finally just be excellent to each other?

Richard Whittaker, Aug. 28, 2020

Red 2
No wonder Bruce Willis has become the king of the sequels: He reliably delivers more of whatever it is we liked the last time.

Kimberley Jones, July 19, 2013

More by Marjorie Baumgarten
All That Breathes
The struggle by three men to save the endangered black kite

March 31, 2023

SXSW Film Review: <i>Joy Ride</i>
Film Review: Joy Ride
Groundbreaking comedy doesn't break the raunchy mold

March 19, 2023


Fun With Dick and Jane, Dean Parisot, Jim Carrey, Téa Leoni, Alec Baldwin, Richard Jenkins, Jeff Garlin, Richard Burgi, Angie Harmon

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle