Fun with Dick and Jane (12A)

ANDREW CLARKE Fun With Dick and Jane is a remake of a film with a flimsy plot and relied entirely on the personality of George Segal and his chemistry with co-star Jane Fonda to make it work.

ANDREW CLARKE

Why do they bother? Remakes it seems are the current in thing in Hollywood at the moment. Fun With Dick and Jane is a remake of a film with a flimsy plot and relied entirely on the personality of George Segal and his chemistry with co-star Jane Fonda to make it work.

Stripped of the two personalities which drew audiences to the cinema, Fun With Dick and Jane has little to recommend it as a film. So why remake it? It certainly it doesn't work as a vehicle for the zany Jim Carrey and sadly he has virtually no chemistry with Tea Leoni who takes on the thankless role of the wife.

Carrey is trapped between full-out Ace Ventura-style silliness and hemmed-in suburban normality. This unhappy hybrid is further compromised by the fact that there is nothing in the script for them to get their teeth into. The laughs are completely reliant on Jim Carrey pulling lots of funny faces and getting increasingly manic as the story unfolds.


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It all seems rather at odds with a story which is set in the harsh modern world of global money markets and sharp business practices. Jim Carrey plays Dick Harper as a sunny, happy-go-lucky character who you know is going to be the ultimate fall guy.

Alec Baldwin and Richard Jenkins play his bosses Jack McCallister and Frank Bascom who promote Harper to vice president in charge of communications on the eve of the company's financial collapse.

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He is told that his first job will be go live on a network economics programme to present the company in a good light when they publish their annual results. What hapless Dick Harper hasn't been told is that McCallister and Bascom have been cooking the books and during the last few months McCallister has been stabbing everyone in the back by selling all his shares in the company.

Harper finds himself hopelessly tongue-tied on air as the television presenter has all these facts to hand and Dick doesn't even know that he and his colleagues are all out of a job.

A lot of time has been spent in the US examining the possibilities of the film being a satire on the corporate game-playing at Enron, but as Enron means less to us over here, we don't even have the distraction of looking for a few satirical point-scoring possibilities.

The script is laughable rather than being full of laughs.

Rather than being a clever black comedy, we get a quick, cheap caper comedy which simply doesn't make sense. Jim Carrey and Tea Leoni simply don't act and react like a loving married couple. There's no on-screen fizz, they could almost be work colleagues or next door neighbours.

The height of the film's sophistication is a dreadful, overly-extended sequence of physical incapacity when Dick is punched by a Mexican immigrant as they compete for a painting job - causing his face to swell. This coincides with Jane's attempts to earn some extra cash by volunteering to be a guinea pig at trials for a new botox treatment. Of course she is the only one to suffer an allergic reaction which causes her face to swell - which results in neither of them being able to talk properly or to kiss.

As money gets increasingly tight and the threat of having his home repossessed looms, Carrey's Dick Harper concludes that desperate measures are called for. And tells Jane that he is going to hold up some local stores to get the money to pay their mortgage.

Jane doesn't believe him and volunteers to drive the "getaway" car just so she can see Dick fall flat on his face, but is amazed when after several false starts he actually pulls off a job and the pair go on a highly successful bank-robbing spree until the cops come a-calling and they see an opportunity to get their own back on the man who caused their financial misery - Jack McCallister.

The film lurches around like a drunk on his way home from a six-hour drinking spree. There's no focus to the story, no laughs, no real grounding in the real world. The crime spree is ludicrous and wouldn't actually work and as for the con trick played on Jack McCallister - The Sting it ain't.

The film has a tired, retread feel about it. There's not the effervescent fizzle that a film like this needs to succeed. The film title says Fun With Dick and Jane - having viewed it, I think that the movie is in danger of falling foul of the Trades Descriptions Act.

Avoid.

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