Thursday 28 January 2021

Movie Review: Fun With Dick And Jane (2005)

A comedy about the dark side of unchecked capitalism, Fun With Dick And Jane offers some good laughs but is often more juvenile than biting.

A communications manager with giant corporation Globodyne, Dick Harper (Jim Carrey) and his wife Jane (Téa Leoni) are living the good suburban life. Chief Financial Officer Frank Bascombe (Richard Jenkins) unexpectedly promotes Dick to Vice President, and he then gets to meet Chief Executive Officer Jack McCallister (Alec Baldwin). 

But Globodyne is on the brink of financial collapse. The company suddenly goes bankrupt, Dick is embarrassed on national television, the pension plan is raided and the employees left destitute, while McCallister makes off with a fortune. In a tough employment market Dick and Jane struggle to find work, and in desperation resort to petty crime to avoid losing their house. But Bascombe re-emerges, along with an opportunity to redress the balance.

A lightweight comedy inspired by Enron-style corporate implosions, Fun With Dick And Jane updates the 1977 Jane Fonda/George Segal film with the same fair to middling outcome. Essentially a star vehicle for Jim Carrey to unleash his usual physical comedy and facial expression antics, here he is subdued enough to fit into the corporate milieu. Director Dean Parisot leans heavily on the decent chemistry between Carrey and Leoni as the couple sinking in financial quicksand, while writers Judd Apatow and Nicholas Stoller surround them with modestly entertaining if never sparkling content.

The highlights include newly-minted VP Dick Harper's live television interview as he is caught flat-footed by Globodyne's stock plunge, amplified later by rival corporate bros humiliating him as a legend. And irrelevant to the central plot but helpful in building empathy, Dick and Jane strengthen their bond after both earning bruised and bloated faces in their desperate attempts to find jobs. The frantic final caper in a posh bank is also well-handled.

But otherwise the content spreads thin over the short 90 minutes and several scenes are stretched into filler territory, including eye-rolling shots of a car skidding on wet pavement and a dragged-out footrace to an interview line-up. And this being a Carrey comedy, the humour often veers into cartoon territory at the expense of any attempts at witty satire.

Alec Baldwin and Richard Jenkins add acting heft in the key support roles, although both are stifled by the material. Dick and Jane do have fun, but no one gets to stretch.

All Ace Black Movie Blog reviews are here.

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