263 – Fun with Dick and Jane

Fun with Dick and Jane, a remake of a 1977 comedy starring George Segal and Jane Fonda and whose title comes from a popular children’s book of the time, is uneven and underwhelming, although it does feature some amusing performances by the current leads, Jim Carrey and Tea Leoni.

Dick (Carrey) is excited because he’s finally gotten a huge promotion at the gigantic conglomerate at which he works, so he encourages wife Jane (Leoni) to quit her job as a travel agent. And then the big company is sunk by unethical behavior on the part of its CEO (Alec Baldwin), and suddenly the Harpers are without jobs, money, or prospects. Desperate, Dick decides to turn to a life of crime – and, as it turns out, they’re pretty good at it!

When the duo runs into the former financial officer of Dick’s old company (Richard Jenkins) they decide to try to get back the money that the CEO had swiped (i.e., the pensions of all of the lower-level employees). A scheme is hatched, and madcap hilarity ensues.

About 45 minutes elapse before the Harpers begin to rob businesses, which is about 35 minutes too long, in my opinion. I mean, the premise of the movie is that they have to become criminals in order to survive, so why waste half the film leading up to it? On the other hand, maybe there’s only so much one can watch of the Harpers robbing Starbucks and head shops before one’s head explodes.

The laughs are generally scattershot. Carrey comes off best, because he’s always excelled in playing manic, exuberantly broad characters. He’s well cast, and so is Leoni as his equally flighty-funny wife. Because the actors are such good fits for the roles, the movie’s not altogether unentertaining; they do much more for the movie than it does for them. Adding able support is Baldwin as the heavy and Jenkins as the disgraced CFO, now a lush. An interesting running gag has the Harpers’ son speaking with a Spanish accent (and occasionally in Spanish), thanks largely to his being raised by their Spanish-speaking nanny.

Dick and Jane is amiable enough, but it’s not as consistently funny as it should have been.

Fun with Dick and Jane: **1/2

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