Before you even step foot in the theater, the film’s bold title — Fun With Dick and Jane — tells you that it’s a can’t miss film. Who doesn’t like fun? That depends. How you take your comedy will largely determine the degree of fun you’ll actually have with Dick and Jane. If you’re a fan of the whimsical original 1977 film staring George Segal and Jane Fonda, prepare to be disappointed. This remake has replaced the original’s charm with a slapstick free-for-all that generates only marginal laughs.
This is Dick (Jim Carrey): a well-paid executive at the Globodyne Corporation. Like everyone else on his block, Dick drives a brand new BMW from his brand new tract house in the suburbs to work at Globodyne. This is Jane (Téa Leoni): the loving wife of Dick who abruptly quits her menial job as a travel agent when Dick gets promoted to VP of Communication at Globodyne. Life is good for all in suburbia until the company goes belly-up in a corporate accounting scandal engineered by its top executives (Alec Baldwin and Richard Jenkins). This is bad news for Dick and Jane.
See Dick and Jane find new jobs? Not a chance! Since all of the former Globodyne employees are now flooding the job market, all of the better paying jobs are scarce. Dick and Jane find work at the local Wal-Mart knock-off and a 24-hour workout facility, but quickly lose their jobs when they cannot perform the simple tasks assigned to them. As their funds dwindle, desperation mounts. Soon, their possessions are sold and their power is turned off — even their new lawn is repossessed. It’s a rapid fall from grace.
Now completely desperate and destitute, Dick and Jane look to a life of crime as the only means to get their lives back. Initially, local coffee houses and convenience stores provide the training ground for Dick and Jane to develop their robbery skills. In one of the film’s funniest scenes, a hooded Dick can’t quite get the gun out of his coat pocket while standing at a liquor store counter – such a rookie! Later, a more confident Dick and Jane dress up as Bill and Hillary and Sonny and Cher to rob banks. All of this is beyond silly or realistic, and yet these scenes with Carrey and Leoni provide the biggest laughs.
Fun is great fun if you’re looking for mind-numbing entertainment without a lick of story or character development. It is also yet another opportunity for Carrey run amuck, acting like an out of control child. And I thought he’d grown up with Eternal Sunshine. Yet what’s most surprising is that Fun is co-written by Judd Apatow, who delivered a much crisper, funnier, and all around better screenplay with The 40 Year Old Virgin.
Anyone familiar with the infamous Enron or WorldCom accounting scandals could have written this film (and possibly a better one): The material was ripe for the picking. Director Dean Parisot’s attempt to issue a commentary on the executives whose indiscretions left employees and investors penniless quickly loses steam behind Carrey’s overbearing performance. Fortunately, at only 85 minutes long, the “fun” is over before you know it.