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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Stealing the American Dream
by Betty Jo Tucker

As an avid Jim Carrey fan, I look forward to his films. He can always make me laugh, and his outrageous antics in Fun with Dick and Jane are no exception. Playing a hard-working business executive who loses everything and goes on a crime spree with his wife, Carrey delivers another hilarious performance.    

“The astounding thing about working with Jim,” says director Dean Parisot (Galaxy Quest), “is that most of my job entails setting up the scene and then stepping back to watch him play it.” Several of these scenes evoke images of those great comics in silent movies who needed no dialogue to be funny. My favorite shows Carrey’s character, Dick (of course), trying to spend a day at home alone after Globodyne, the corporation he works for, goes bust. This formerly very busy man doesn’t know what to do with himself. He turns lights on and off, jumps over stair railings, poses quirkily in various chairs and so forth. How many actors could turn such a simple situation into a memorable film sequence? Probably only Carrey.

Téa Leoni (Flirting with Disaster), who portrays Dick’s wife Jane, believes she got lucky on this film. “Jim and I got this great rhythm going from day one,” she claims. “We were able to take a very small nugget and run with it for five or ten minutes. It was like finding someone to whom you’re very well matched for a certain parley.”

Well matched they are as Dick and Jane slowly go insane and carry out their silly robbery schemes. Leoni endows Jane with a nervous energy that complements Carrey’s manic behavior. But both are equally good later when showing remorse for their crimes. According to Parisot, who displays excellent comic timing in his direction here, “Jim has the ability to turn on a dime and try things from all kinds of different perspectives and Téa was right there with him. Watching them, I really felt that they had actually been together for years.” Me, too.   

Portraying the Globodyne bigwig responsible for its demise -- but still living in luxury -- Alec Baldwin (The Cooler) makes us want to boo  whenever he appears on screen. And I couldn’t help cheering when Dick arranges a wonderful comeuppance for this unscrupulous CEO.

Based on the 1977 movie starring George Segal and Jane Fonda, the new Fun with Dick and Jane boasts a timely script adaptation by Judd Apatow and Nicholas Stoller. It arrives at a time when the average chief executive makes 400 times as much the average worker and when audiences are still outraged by the Enron debacle. Although not a humorous topic in real-life, the film’s theme comes across in BIG, bold strokes through Jim Carrey’s brilliant comic interpretation of a man whose American Dream suddenly turns into a nightmare.   

(Released by Columbia Pictures and rated “PG-13” for brief language, some sexual humor, occasional humorous drug references.)       

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