FUN WITH DICK AND JANE directed by Dean Parisot, written by Judd Apatow, Nicholas Stoller and Peter Tolan, with Jim Carrey, Téa Leoni and Alec Baldwin. A Columbia Pictures release. 90 minutes. For venues and times, see Movie Listings. Rating: NN Rating: NN
A scene in the middle of this movie, a blink-or-you'll-miss-it stab at George Bush, and a tongue-in-cheek closing montage hint at the smartly written satire it could have been. Too bad Fun With Dick And Jane was instead planned as a feel-good comedy starring Jim Carrey.
What's left is Carrey's patented over-the-top shtick (more muggingly annoying than usual) and some not-very-funny riffs on the cold hard facts: unemployment is an epidemic, the rich get richer while the poor struggle, and nice guys very often finish last. Are you laughing yet?
Carrey plays Dick Harper, a mid-level executive who thinks he's hit the big time with his promotion at Globodyne Industries, only to find out his ascendancy is short-lived. Pretty soon he's jobless, as is wife Jane (Téa Leoni), and there's still a mortgage, a child, a dog and a loyal housekeeper to worry about.
The movie takes its time getting to the funny parts, and the comedic moments are pretty far-fetched and mildly offensive, particularly a scene with Mexican immigrants and unsmiling Immigration and Naturalization Service officials. As for the much-touted life of crime the suburban couple resort to, it's not nearly sharp enough and seems a little too easy. How can a couple rob a Starbucks and not draw attention to themselves, ski masks or not?
There are a few yuks, mostly delivered by Alec Baldwin, who's clearly having a blast as the corrupt big boss, borrowing the attitude and apparent weight plan Ed McMahon sported in the 1977 original. Richard Jenkins also deserves praise for his believable VP with a conscience, so stricken he has to drink to get through the day. The fact that we find that funny is a tribute to Jenkins's talent.
Yes, hijinks ensue, but they're hardly hilarious, thanks to the lazy script. Combine this with the irony that the down-on-his luck schlub is played by Carrey, a guy who makes 20 million a pic for making faces at the camera, and it's not just the film but life itself that becomes painfully depressing.