By TNPihl (JCO Editor-In-Chief)
Here is the first big review from a test screening of Jim Carrey's upcoming blockbuster - "Fun With Dick and Jane". Big thanks to Sonic Death Monkey, for sending this awesome review!!! Be aware of potential spoilers and some "dirty words". Enjoy! :-)
Review by Sonic Death Monkey:
I'm happy to announce that Jim Carrey's latest, "Fun with Dick and Jane" is a real winner. For a comedy about white collar crime and armed robbery it manages to be a light fluffy bunch of fun.
Set, as the title card says "a long, long time again" in the year 2000 'Dick and Jane' starts out like 'Spanglish Too" (I hear the stereotypes will play basketball in this one). The couple is struggling to move into the upper middle class. Dick drives an old Volvo while everyone else seems to have a new BMW. (he cant afford a new car because..? The movie never explains why is co-works all have so much nicer cars but I think its because his homes furnishings look to have cost roughly…1 bajillion dollars). His son, in a very funny running gag, speaks with a heavy Spanish accent because the nanny (America Ferrera given absolutely nothing to do) raises him more than his parents. And this is about the extent of the troubles in Dicks life.
© Sony Pictures
The setup is cute, but it had me worried. I'm sick of seeing films about the 'fabulously well to do' as Vonnegut would say, and how their lives are soooooo hard. I even began to feel shades of the flick 'Envy' for a moment or too. I simply don't empathize with a character because he cant afford a fuckin' hot tub to go with the new pool he's having dug. And its not jealously, I have a very nice pool, and hot tub, and a sauna even. It's just that I don't find callow greed to be good character development.
Luckily, that's the point; the movie slyly mocks comsumerism and materialism more and more as the characters lives unravel and their world unfurls.
By the end of the opening credits, which humorously reference this remakes namesake, the books that taught our parents to read, Carrey is singing 'I Believe I can Fly' to muzak and by the 10 minute marker he's met ('the worlds greatest actor')...ALEC BALDWIN! and become 'VP of Communications'.
Matt Stone and Trey Parker be damned, Aleck Baldwin rules! Here he gets to have fun playing a real dick. Basically he's just doing his "Aviator" Role, only sleezeier and with a Texas accent (courtesy of Bush and or the Enron folks I believe). He is delectably evil and oh so much fun to watch. His lines are either mostly improvised, or he embodies this character so well that he should be required to play him in every film released from now on. (he it works for Will Ferell).
© Sony Pictures
Long story short; Dick gets promoted, buys some ridiculously expensive shit, his wife quits her job, then on his first day, the company goes bankrupt. And when it does there is a scene parodying the original 'Dawn of the Deads" climax and subsequent cut decapitation...acted out with a fichus.
Next, the movie does the unexpected…it becomes relevant. In just a few short lines it subtly explains just how fucking evil these Enron types are. The economy is in free fall, housing prices plummet, Carrey is stuck with his new '7 series' lease and no one is going to get their severance pay.
Now, Dick is a bit of a blowhard. He was only VP for one day and was obviously just a patsy but he wont settle for anything less than VP jobs, which aren't available and he's unqualified for. But, as the family begins to struggle and the threat of financial ruin mounts Dick ends up taking a job at a Wal-mart knock off, that hilariously has anti-union signs EVERYWHERE (even in front of the urinals I believe). Jane goes in for medical experiments, they trade in the Range Rover for a Geo and start paying the nanny in Cuisanards. Their lawn gets repossessed and Dick gets deported. By the end of it all Carrey looks like Bruce Campbell and things are starting to feel like a John Waters movie.
© Sony Pictures
It all began to make me feel a bit uncomfortable, and then I realized, that was because I finally cared about the characters…that said, this portion of the film, for all its jokes and gags just isn't that funny. There is a multitude of rather racists sequences, (again like 'Spanglish 2: Joeb's War') and the entire film in fact has a subtext of Hispanic subservience. To a point that's satirical, but to the levels it's used, it's just offensive. Also, it just drags quite a bit, the timing needs to be tightened and I wasn't the only one fidgeting in my seat.
When Carrey gets notice that he will be evicted in 24 hours if he doesn't pay his mortgage he snaps and decides if crime worked for his bosses, it will work for him. Jane wants in and to be his wheelman. Carrey dresses up like the Unabomber (which makes him look 'hot' according to my friend) and after some bumbling and the theft of a Slurpee for warm up the pair rob a stoned clerk who I swear could be Sid Haig in a milk out your nose funny scene shot in black light at a head shop.
Here is where the movie really picks up and becomes a mad cap surreal head rush.
© Sony Pictures
A crime montage ensues, and apparently in the year 2000, liquor stores and restaurants had more money than G-d because before long Dick and Jane are living better than Dicks legit job could afford; MUCH better. But then, that's the point, its all ridiculous, the materialism is obscene.
Soon they are entrapped into planning a huge heist, (albeit a purposefully stupid one) and things come to a climax akin to an actually funny 'Oceans 11'. The ending is sticky sweet and it was all too convenient, but I liked it anyway because I actually cared about these characters.
As I said earlier, Leoni is basically doing "Spanglish 2: The Revenge", (the film itself even has several similar moments) but that's ok, because it's a good character. Eventually her part evolves into a pluckish young lass who takes charge and she holds her own against Carrey quite nicely. The chemistry is palpable and their timing is great.
© Sony Pictures
Carrey has the real mean here though. Not only does he get to do Bruce Campbell impressions, he also gets a solid character arc. Of late, the former 'Mr. Ventura' has been hitting his stride. His last couple of films have all really worked. 'Eternal Sunshine' gets better with each time I see it; you have to love Joel like the brother your mother aborted. As for his comedies, he has insidiously been working towards this; a film with a drama characters depth that just happens to be shit yourself funny. The man has learned to pick a script and I look forward to his future work because of this. He is so good in everything he does, and most everything he does is so good.
As per usual, I saw this film with friends; A closet case pretty boy who liked it, 8/10 I'd say. A girl who is smarter than you, but gets distracted by things like the shiny pages in the illustrated version of the 'Da Vinci Code', probably a 9/10. A middle aged mother who repeatedly referred to it as 'Hilarious' giving it a 9.2/10 and me. I think if some of the racism and uncomfortable timing in the middle is fixed this film could be an 8.5/10
© Sony Pictures
Overall, the film just works. The director sat in front of me during the screening (he looks more than a bit like John Kerry) and he looks so gratified when he left right as it ended. Which he should, this movie is going to be huge. It's intelligent, subversive, well written and competently shot. There's almost nothing dirty in it except for the very subtle use of the name 'Dick' followed by a term that could be dirty, but isn't in context. It could almost garner a PG rating and be a family hit. I appreciated too that the jokes never went to the lowest common denominator of dick and fart jokes.
I know I must sound like a plant, but I swear I'm not, look up my other reviews on aintitcoolnews.com, some of them are very vitriolic. I jus honestly have almost nothing bad to say about this film. It very well could be the second best screening I've ever been to. Behind "The Iron Giant", which still makes me cry and is my favorite animated film ever. This film is no where near that good, but I still cant wait to see it when it comes out.
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