Thursday, February 21, 2013

Movie Review: Fun with Dick and Jane (2005)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Funny, original movie with great performances by Jim Carrey and Tea Leoni
Cons: Our main characters are more anti-hero then hero.
The Bottom Line:
Laughs from start to end
Dark comedy, satire
Played to perfection

See Dick and Jane Have Fun

Meet Dick Harper (Jim Carrey). He's an employee of a mega corporation on his way up the corporate ladder.

Meet Jane Harper (Tea Leoni). She works at a travel agency to support their middle class lifestyle.

Together, the Harpers have a new house in the suburbs, a son named Billy, a dog named Spot (of course), and a servant named Blanca.

In 2000, Dick's big promotion finally comes. He's now the VP of Communications for his company. He encourages Jane to quit her job to stay home with Billy, an idea she loves.

On his first day in his new position, he goes on a cable outlet to counter the bad news in the media about his company. While he announces to the world that everything is fine, the FCC announces a full-scale investigation and stock prices plummets.

Dick's initial reaction is to not worry. After all, they've got savings. Certainly he can get a new job in a couple months. But as the months go by, nothing happens. All of Dick's former co-workers are also trying to get the limited number of jobs in the area. Dick's desperate attempts to get any kind of job only lead to failure. Finally, out of desperation, Dick and Jane turn to crime. But when they have a chance to get revenge on Dick's former boss (Alec Baldwin), can they pull it off?

I was interested in seeing this movie for one reason and one reason alone - they filmed a scene about half a mile from my house. I'm not a Jim Carrey fan, so I was expecting to hate the movie. Plus I didn’t like the sounds of the plot. When I got a chance to attend a test screening the end of October in 2005, I jumped. I figured this was a way to see the movie without wasting money. I enjoyed every minute of it.

In spite of how the plot sounds, this really is a comedy. Maybe because I don't think that way, I've never been able to understand how a black comedy works. All I know is, this one does. The humor seems to come from the absurd. What is happening on the screen is so absurd it really is funny. The scene shown in the trailer where they are asking if the muffins are low fat before taking them is a perfect example. Even while the comedy is coming from absurdity, it is grounded in reality. The likelihood of these events happening to these people is slim to none, but you believe it could happen when watching the movie.

Of course, being a Jim Carrey movie, there is physical comedy as well. The scene of him racing other applicants to a job interview comes to mind. He does an amazing job in one scene being a puppet with invisible strings.

A big thing that helps the movie is the characters. They truly are likable. Even when they start breaking the law, you can't help but root for them to win. Mr. Carrey and Ms. Leoni deserve lots of credit for bring these characters to life with such skill.

Also, as I've hinted at before, the story holds together well. The writers take time making the situations believable. Because of that, the story takes time getting where we know the movie is going, but you truly need that time to understand why Dick and Jane turn to a life of crime.

Not that the movie drags at all. It starts out strong and keeps moving from one funny situation to another until the ending, which I absolutely loved.

I have recently found out this movie is a remake of a 1977 movie with the same title and plot starring George Segal and Jane Fonda in the title rolls. Since I haven't seen that movie, I can't compare the two. What I can tell you is this movie seemed fresh and funny to me.

Since what I saw was a test screening, things can change. Frankly, I don't see how they can make the movie any better. Based on what I saw, Fun with Dick and Jane is a winner and I will certainly pay money to see it again.

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