One of the best things about movies such as “Fun with Dick and Jane” (Columbia Pictures) is that when you watch it, you can tell how much fun the movie must have been to make.
While I enjoy serious films about weighty subjects as much as the next cinephile, it is often refreshing to see a movie that delights in its own sheer ridiculousness. The movie is more than just a silly comedy, however; it is also a sharp and witty satire, skewering American consumerism and corporate scandals, while not being the least bit didactic.
The movie, a remake of the 1977 film of the same name with George Segal and Jane Fonda, stars Jim Carrey as Dick Harper, an ambitious yuppie moving through the ranks of a corporation called Globodyne, which the movie may as well have called Enron. On the day he is promoted to vice president of communications, his wife, Jane (T?a Leoni, “Spanglish”), quits her job at the travel agency. Unfortunately, Dick loses his job when Globodyne tanks. Unable to find a new job in any capacity, and facing eviction from their once-beautiful home, Dick and Jane get the bright idea to become robbers, and hilarity ensues.
Other directors might have taken this starting point and turned the film into a satirical indictment of the corporate culture of 21st-century America. But director Dean Parisot (“Galaxy Quest”) doesn’t try to be Michael Moore, and has the good sense to allow the movie to be funny on its own terms.
This fact is best represented in a scene where Carrey sits in front of his house after his front lawn has been repossessed. In a lesser movie, this scene would almost certainly feature Carrey looking out into the night sky with desperation in his eyes. But in this movie, the look in Carrey’s eyes is not desperate but crazed, and he proceeds to take a knife to several neighbors’ lawns and attempt to recreate his own. This is a movie that does not take itself too seriously, a fact that allows it to reach its full comedic potential.
“Fun with Dick and Jane” is effective for several reasons. It is fast-paced, leaping from one absurd scene to another with heedless abandon. It contains a first-rate performance by Carrey, reestablishing him as the premier physical comedian in recent memory. And the supporting cast, especially Alec Baldwin in a brilliant turn as Globodyne’s crooked CEO, is also terrific. And best of all, it’s consistently funny. It’s been a fantastic year for co-writer Judd Apatow: With “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” which he co-wrote and directed, and now “Fun with Dick and Jane,” he has been a part of the two best comedies of the year.
“Fun with Dick and Jane” opens nationwide on Dec. 21.