The title is a bit optimistic. Fun With Dick and Jane was clearly more fun for the actors than the audience. Having knocked the ball out of the park with Galaxy Quest, director Dean Parisot fails to duplicate that film's light and airy tone, coming off a lot more strained and desperate. There's a surrealistic quality to watching Jim Carrey and Téa Leoni as fumbling first-time criminals, the set pieces too bizarre for the kind of prepackaging Carrey fans expect. This is not to slam Carrey -- it's just that his most successful movies (Dumb and Dumber, Liar Liar) have straddled that line between what audiences anticipate, and what punches surprise laughter out of them. Fun With Dick and Jane, on the other hand, resides in some nebulous "discomfort zone" that makes it a trial to watch. This may be traceable to the erratic script from co-writer Judd Apatow, who fails to ride his momentum from The 40-Year-Old Virgin. The film is too poorly lit for a comedy, and that goes beyond the Harpers having their power shut off for non-payment. Worse, lambasting Enron-style corporate malfeasance already feels passé -- a fact that's teasingly acknowledged by making it the most modern of period pieces, set in the year 2000. Carrey and Leoni do try hard, but that energy is more focused on hamming their way through vignettes than generating sympathy. This emotional distance extends to their son, who receives no development beyond the fact that he speaks only Spanish -- a rather too-obvious jab at the nanny fixation of the corporate family. Alec Baldwin tries to steer things in the right direction by playing a wickedly Southern golden parachutist, but he might be safer behaving like his character -- boarding a helicopter and leaving the collapsing remains of the movie behind him.
by Derek Armstrong review