Fun with Dick & Jane
Things seem to be looking up for Dick Harper (Jim Carrey) and his wife Jane (Téa Leoni). While they don't have the snazzy voice-activated car that their neighbor has, they do have a big house, a huge widescreen TV, and a considerable debt load to go with their cushy upper-middle-class lifestyle. And now, to make things even better, Dick has been promoted to vice president of communications at Globodyne, the company where he works. Alas, the corporation giveth and the corporation taketh away, and no sooner have Dick and Jane begun to celebrate their good fortune than Globodyne goes through an Enron-style meltdown, wiping out their income, their pension, and even the property value of their house; if they were to sell it, they would actually owe the bank money. The landscapers even repossess their front lawn. "I didn't know they could do that," Jane says.
Unfortunately for Dick, while at least one of his bosses knew what was coming and cashed his chips accordingly, he himself had no clue, and he happened to be in the middle of an interview on live television when Globodyne's stock took a sudden dive. The public humiliation, and the possibility that he might be indicted along with his former employers, makes it that much more difficult for Dick to find work—prospective employers are more interested in meeting the infamous loser than in hiring him—so eventually he turns to minimum-wage jobs and hangs out with Hispanic day laborers, where, of course, he loses his I.D. and is mistaken for an illegal immigrant when the cops show up. Jane, for her part, takes part in clinical trials for cosmetics that leave her face looking rather puffy.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, and finally, to restore the lifestyle that they believe they were unjustly cheated of, Dick and Jane embark on a series of armed robberies—sort of. On their first few escapades, Dick is armed only with their son's squirt gun, and he is either easily intimidated or too eager to help little old ladies to their cars. But eventually, he and Jane get the hang of it—stealing cars, robbing banks, and so on. While this middle part of the story is most prominent in the trailer, it is perhaps the least developed part of the film, and it makes the least impression. The fact that Dick and Jane are committing crimes barely registers, partly because several of the robberies are seen only briefly in montages, and partly because some of their victims seem to deserve what they get, at least from the Harpers' point of view and, thus, from ours as well.
I have not yet seen the original 1977 version of Fun with Dick and Jane, starring George Segal and Jane Fonda, but I gather it was a satire of consumerism and middle-class values. (Its script is credited to three men, including novelist Mordecai Richler and Alien series producer David Giler, and it was directed by Ted Kotcheff, who went on to introduce the world to a disgruntled Vietnam vet named Rambo in First Blood.) The new movie, however, seems less interested in mocking middle-class materialism than in pointing fingers at the corporate and perhaps even political leaders who have let the middle class down.