Fun with Dick and Jane

By Garth Franklin
Fun with Dick and Jane

Despite good success in the dramatic field, its Jim Carrey's comedies that rake in the money for the actor. Yet even in this genre, the tone of his efforts have changed over the year from the more crude yet funny "Ace Ventura", "Dumb & Dumber" or "Me, Myself and Irene" style antics to family friendly and very vanilla studio comedies such as "Liar, Liar" and "Bruce Almighty". The sad news is 'Fun' is his most bland vehicle yet, a surprisingly dated and flat comedy which plays like a direct-to video-effort that only got a big screen release due to the presence of Carrey.

That said both he and co-star Tea Leoni do make a good on-screen couple which helps yield the odd laugh, especially towards the felonious last half hour when they become wildly dressed crims in order to turn their fortunes around. In order to get to that last act however, one has to wade through an hour of very tired and surprisingly serious at times setup of how poor the situation gets for this out of work couple. The laughs here are somewhat dated, soft-pedalled politically incorrect jokes about Mexicans, greedy corporations and attempts by the underdog to win at any cost.

For a film which never tries to be credible with its core premise, some of the moments of family struggle over economic difficulties ring surprisingly real. Judd Apatow and Nicholas Stoller?s screenplay obviously needed some more drafts here, never effectively exploiting either the tough at home hardships or the wildness of the crime capers. If a tone had been settled early on it would've helped. A good plot would've been of use as well, the story essentially retreading the old chestnut of the slimy employer who eventually will get his comeuppance.

Alec Baldwin does his usual good stuff with his few limited scenes, but with such a generic character its obvious he's only in it for the paycheck. Likewise the writers seem to be on autopilot, never exploring premise to any degree beyond its set pattern, never offering anything new, and in fact shooting themselves in the foot to some extent.

With all studio comedies though, the only important thing is how often the laughs hit - in this case most are way off target. When the film's best gag involves Jim Carrey doing a Cher impersonation, you have to be worried. Other bits, though offering a mild giggle, are frequently out numbered by jokes which simply fall flat on their face. Add to that a score made up of familiar but awkwardly placed songs, and lively but cartoonish direction and you get a dumb predictable comedy that's light on the laughs and interest. One of those films that just fills up time more than anything else.