Posts Tagged ‘Téa Leoni’

Fun with Dick and Jane

fun-with-dick-and-janeFun with Dick and Jane is a remake of the subversive 1977 satire starring George Segal and Jane Fonda that harped on the hypocrisies of American capitalism. It cleverly poked fun at the aerospace industry, the welfare system and televangelism. Of all the remakes in the theatres these days, and there have been a lot of them, Fun with Dick and Jane should have been the most timely. With the collapse of Enron and the internet bubble bursting this story should be social satire, but somehow it falls flatter than the foam on a day old Starbuck’s latte.

The story sees yuppies Dick and Jane, played by Jim Carrey and Téa Leoni living a comfortable suburban life. When Dick is promoted to Vice President of Communications at his corporate job the couple seem to be set for life. Unfortunately the job only lasts for twenty-four hours. Dick, and the entire company find themselves out of work when the boss brings down the company in a stock scandal. Over-extended, bankrupt and unable to find work Dick and Jane turn to armed robbery to pay their bills.

Aside from a few jabs at big business, the toll greedy corporations can take on their employees and an interesting “thank-you” list in the credits—how many times have you seen Ken Lays name in the credits of a movie?—Fun with Dick and Jane exchanges the satirical bite of the original for Jim Carrey’s patented physical humor and a revenge subplot.

Carrey makes the most of his slightly written part, and generates a few laughs here, but without him Fun with Dick and Jane wouldn’t live up to the promise of its name.


Ricky_Gervais_in_Ghost_Town_Wallpaper_1_1024Ghost Town, a new comedy starring Brit com sensation Ricky Gervais, Téa Leoni and Greg Kinnear, follows in the footsteps of the ghostly romances of the 1940s. In movies like Here Comes Mr. Jordan and Down to Earth ghostly apparitions had a hand in changing people’s lives and helping romance blossom. It’s an old concept given a shiny new treatment by Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull screenwriter, turned director David Koepp.

Kinnear plays Frank, a high powered New York businessman who seems to love his I-Phone more than his wife Gwen (Leoni). When he is killed in a freak accident he discovers that his body can’t make its final journey until all his business is settled on Earth. Enter Bertram Pincus D.D.S. (Gervais) a persnickety dentist with zero people skills. When a simple medical procedure leaves him dead on the operating table for two minutes he awakens with the strange ability to see the newly departed. They’re everywhere. These lost souls wander the streets looking for some way to communicate with their loved ones so they can prepare for the trip to the beyond. Frank latches on to Bertram, initially using him to spy on his widow until he realizes that the dentist is falling in love with Gwen. Frank must learn to give up his controlling ways and let Gwen go before he can rest in peace.

Ghost Town begins as a straight-up comedy and slowly, over its 103 minute running time, turns into a romantic comedy, heavy on the romance, light on the comedy. As the romance angle increases the laugh per minute ratio decreases to the point where, I think, it’s not accurate to call the film a comedy in its final moments.

Gervais is given free reign to flaunt his trademarked misanthropic schitick, but only up to a point. This is his first lead in an American film and it is interesting to see how his acerbic wit is shaped and softened by Hollywood. “[I’m] just what America wants,” he said in a recent interview, “a fat, British, middle-aged comedian trying to be a semi-romantic lead.” If he had been allowed to play up to his strengths—obnoxious and uncomfortable wit—instead of being made palatable for Gladys in Minnesota by smoothing out his patented rough edges Ghost Town might have been a much better movie. Instead of being an effective vehicle for Gervais’s humor, though, the movie made me want to go home and watch his sitcom Extras on DVD.

Ghost Town isn’t a terrible movie, just a misguided and forgettable one.