Even with Carrey, the “Fun” is still sporadic
If you are in need of a just-average comedy, and can appreciate Jim Carrey’s brand of elastic mugging, you will enjoy most of “Fun with Dick and Jane,” a remake of the similarly average 1977 film which starred George Segal and Jane Fonda. It’s been updated to take a swipe at the corporate greed associated with the downfall of companies like Enron, World Com, and Tyco. But it struggles to balance its low-level slapstick with its poignant satire, and only occasionally satisfies those who want to laugh and learn something in the process.
In some respects, Carrey is an underrated actor. He not only has shown his versatility in non-comedic roles in diverse films like “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” “The Majestic,” “The Truman Show,” and “Man in the Moon,” but when he’s required to make mediocre material funny he nearly always delivers.
“Fun with Dick and Jane,” proves to be just that– when the film gives Carrey some room to utilize his physical gifts. His natural abilities drive the scenes that provide the film’s funniest moments.
After only one day on the job as V.P. of Communications at Globodyne, Dick (Carrey) falls victim to the corrupt actions of the company’s boss (Alec Baldwin). In an instant, Dick sees his much-sought-after dream job vanish in an Enron like disaster.
Dick and his travel agent wife (Tea Leoni) soon lose nearly everything they’ve worked for, and the film spends a lot of time showing us their pain. Dick can’t find another job, and they have to hock everything they own before the pending foreclosure of their suburban home drives them to a life of petty crime.
Of course the set-up stretches credibility at every turn, but the movie nearly redeems itself with a series of scenes showing the novice criminals in a variety of disguises, robbing and thieving their way back to upper-middle class respectability. Unfortunately for viewers, these scenes exhaust the the film’s creativity and don’t fill enough of the film’s (thankfully) brisk 85 minutes.
A muddled revenge scheme to get back at Baldwin’s character is well-intentioned, but it feels more obligatory than inspired. Carrey fans won’t be disappointed, and Baldwin seems destined to play this same squinty-eyed executive (see “Elizabethtown” and “The Cooler”) for the rest of his life. But Leoni’s comedic inclinations have run their course– she needs to find weightier roles. Unlike Carrey, she cannot lift average material. And make no mistake, “Fun with Dick and Jane” is just that: Average and only marginally a worthwhile rental. This year hasn’t been blessed with many worthwhile PG-13 comedies, and with R-rated films like “The Wedding Crashers,” and “The 40-year-old Virgin” doing huge box office (over $200 and $100 million respectively) the genre of films that falls between the family-friendly PG material and gross-out, hard-R material seems doomed.