Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
Fun With Dick and Jane (1976)
Dick: You're gonna get a job?
Jane: Yes, incredible as it may seem.
Dick: May I ask—no offense, mind you—what do you think you're qualified to do? Secretary of the Treasury seems to be filled at the moment.
Jane: There must be lots of things that I can do.
Dick: Oh come on, Jane, you never worked a day in your life. You can't type and you can't take shorthand.
Jane: I'm a college graduate, reasonably intelligent, not altogether unattractive.
Dick: Yes, but will you be happy being a hooker?
Jane: Interesting that the only two jobs you consider me qualified for are secretary and hooker.
Dick: You're not qualified to be a secretary.- George Segal, Jane Fonda
Stars: George Segal, Jane Fonda, Ed McMahon
Other Stars: Dick Gautier, Hank Garcia, John Dehner, Mary Jackson
Director: Ted Kotcheff
MPAA Rating: PG for (mild language, sexual innuendo)
Run Time: 01h:35m:31s
Release Date: 2003-07-01
DVD ReviewRemember the '70s? Olive-green carpet, dense floral wallpaper, hot pink pantsuits, hula-hoop-sized earrings, wide collars and even wider neckties? Fun With Dick and Jane, a silly but entertaining domestic romp, revives those tacky, cringe-inducing memories of the decade we'd all like to forget. One of a string of recession-era comedies that focuses on the middle-class economic plight, Ted Kotcheff's lively film is also notable for sparking the Jane Fonda renaissance. Absent from Hollywood for four years (a result of industry "gray-listing" due to her left wing political views and Vietnam War meddling), Fonda returned to movies as—of all things—a suburban housewife, a role so far removed from her public image and so unabashedly mainstream it was no doubt a calculated ploy to dull the outrage over her past deeds. The wise move paid off; audiences dropped their grudge and Dick and Jane made money, thus paving the way for such future Fonda triumphs as Julia (1977) and Coming Home (1978).
Fun With Dick and Jane follows the downwardly mobile lives of Dick and Jane Harper (George Segal and Fonda) as they struggle to maintain their lavish Southern California lifestyle in the face of a burgeoning financial crisis. Dick, an aerospace executive, gets fired by his flamboyant boss (Ed McMahon) as a cost-cutting measure, then must enter the bureaucratic nightmare of unemployment and food stamps when his own lame attempts to economize fail. A former office janitor helps him beat the system, but the plan soon backfires and leaves the Harpers practically destitute. Jane's attempt to pitch in as a negligee model is an unmitigated disaster, leaving high-interest loans as the Harpers' only honest monetary option.
But when thugs rob the loan office moments after Dick and Jane receive their cash, and a desperate Jane stashes two wads of discarded bills in her purse, the couple quickly discovers a better way to make a buck. Hard times call for harsh measures, and after a few amusing false-starts, the two don a variety of gaudy disguises and embark on a robbery rampage, eventually becoming, as the movie's trailer puts it, the "Bonnie and Clyde of the San Fernando Valley."
The cute opening title sequence lampoons the easy reader Dick and Jane books, setting the film's tone and providing an efficient prologue. And while the subsequent humor is often patchy, some hilarious dialogue exchanges are liberally sprinkled throughout.
Segal relishes the broad physical comedy and reminds us why his popularity soared in the mid-1970s. A frazzled everyman with a debonair streak, he makes even slapstick situations identifiable, and his exasperation with life's rules and restrictions still strikes a chord today. Fonda also seems to enjoy kicking up her heels and walking on the wild side, satisfying both her feminist and sex kitten tendencies with a naturally exuberant performance. In fact, Segal and Fonda are so believable and make their burglaries look so easy, it's a wonder the film didn't spawn an epidemic of copycat couples.
Topical and satiric, Fun With Dick and Jane remains both a dated trifle and a delightful memory jog. Though today's audiences might dismiss this slight diversion, Hollywood seems to hold it in high esteem. An updated remake co-written by the Coen brothers, directed by Barry Sonnenfeld and starring heavyweights Jim Carrey and Cameron Diaz is currently slated for a 2005 release. Sounds intriguing, but I'll miss the olive-green carpets.
Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B
|Aspect Ratio||1.85:1 - Widescreen|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: The video quality is as spotty as the film's humor. The opening title sequence exhibits such heavy grain that backgrounds look horribly ragged and blurred. But once the main story begins, the image drastically improves, almost as if a projectionist adjusted the focus. The grain evaporates, color perks up and the picture sports a newfound clarity that only a fair degree of edge enhancement can diminish. Sadly, the grain issue recurs throughout the film, ebbing and flowing almost at whim, as if two different source prints were used for this widescreen anamorphic transfer. The result is a frustrating view, with the movie ultimately looking every bit its age—and then some.
Image Transfer Grade: C
Audio Transfer Review: My receiver claimed it was pumping out DD 2.0, but it sure sounded like mono to me. All audio seems firmly anchored in the center channel, but remains clear and resonant throughout. Dialogue is always easy to understand, so you won't miss the characters' clever quips and retorts.
Audio Transfer Grade: B
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring As Good As It Gets, Hanky Panky
Extras Review: Only the film's original trailer (narrated by Tom Bosley of Happy Days) and two other Columbia previews are included. An audio commentary with Segal and Fonda would have been enlightening and probably hilarious, but no such luck.
Extras Grade: C-
Final CommentsFun With Dick and Jane is just what the title advertises—nothing more, nothing less. The simpleton story could be easily transferred to a first grade primer, but the spirited performances by Segal and Fonda add some adult spice. A wildly fluctuating transfer dampens the fun, but Dick and Jane still merits a rental, if only to gawk at the '70s decor.
David Krauss 2003-07-28