Dick Harper (Jim Carrey) is a well-off middle ranking executive who works for the Globodyne corporation, and his wife Jane (Tea Leoni) works for a travel agency. They have everything that life could offer, including roll out lawn and a hole in the backyard for their new hot tub. Life gets even better when Dick is promoted to Vice-President of Communications, and starts rubbing shoulders with Globodyne’s Chief Executive Officer Jack McCallister (Alec Baldwin) and Chief Financial Officer Frank Bascombe (Richard Jenkins). At the same time as Jane quits her travel agency job to spend more time with their six-year-old son Billy, disaster strikes the Globodyne corporation. All of Globodyne’s employees lose their jobs, and McCallister walks away with $400 million.
Dick finds himself working in Hardware Mart while Jane enlists as a guinea pig for a cosmetic drug testing company with disastrous results. Their possessions are gradually repossessed, and the bank gives Dick 24 hours to pay up or lose the house. To recover what they have lost, Dick and Jane turn to a life of crime. They find that they must team up with Bascombe to battle charges of corporate fraud and try to get justice from McAllister.
Here we outline any topics, issues and ideas in this movie that might upset children and adolescents, so that you can gauge whether it is appropriate for your child. For example, children and adolescents may react adversely to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, separation from a parent, animal cruelty or distress, children as victims, natural disasters and racism.
Corporate fraud; unemployment; criminal activity
Here we identify any violence in this movie, and explain how and why it might impact on your child or adolescent. In general, movie violence can make children less sensitive to the use of violence in real life. Alternatively, they may become fearful about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world. In some contexts, it can also teach them to see violence as an acceptable means of conflict resolution.
Fun with Dick and Jane contains periodic low-level violence set in a comical context. For example:
- On his way to a job interview, Dick runs into an ex-Globodyne employee. A fight develops as the two battle each other to get to the front of the interview line.
- Dick is kicked in the groin.
- A woman throws what appears to be a bowl of salt in Dick’s face after Dick chases her through the hardware store.
- Dick is punched in the face over a job.
- In several scenes, Dick sticks his son’s squirt gun in people’s faces while robbing them.
- Dick asks his wife if he could pistol-whip a man they are robbing; he then places a dog collar around his neck, giving him an electric shock whenever he shouts for help.
- During one of Dick and Jane’s bank robberies, a second pair of bank robbers enter the bank with shotguns, firing the guns into the bank’s ceiling.
- Dick tackles Bascombe to the ground and punches him.
Content that may disturb children
Some of the violent scenes described could disturb very young children. Some younger viewers could also be disturbed by the swelling of Dick’s mouth and jaw after he is punched in the face, and Jane’s appearance after a cosmetic test goes horribly wrong.
There is a scene in which a dog receives an electric shock from his collar when he barks, and as a result jumps up in the air. While the scene is designed for comical effect, it could concern some younger viewers.
Children over the age of eight are not likely to be scared by any images in this movie, as they will be more able to respond to the comic intent.
The film contains infrequent and humorous, but at times blatant, sexual references. For example:
- McCallister asks Dick if he has a nickname. Dick says his nickname was ‘squirt’, referring to how he was conceived.
- The expression ‘pulling the dick’ is used to refer to the manner in which Dick responds to a TV interview.
- Dick chases a somewhat older lady through a hardware store. When he catches up to her, she throws a bowl of salt in his face and then holds her breasts saying, ‘I saw you, you were all over my goodies’.
- When Dick and Jane are discussing what they have left to sell, Dick says, ‘There’s always prostitution’. When Jane gives him a somewhat stern look, he says, ‘I meant me’.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
- Bascombe drinks spirits directly from a bottle while intoxicated, slurring his words, staggering around and falling over.
- While drunk, Frank rams Dick’s car into a parked car, then phones Dick stating that he is waiting for the police to arrest him for drink driving.
- Dick drinks a bottle of beer in a bar, and begins to act very intoxicated – staggering, standing on a table and shouting incoherently to the other patrons.
- Dick smokes a very large cigar.
- As part of a job application, Dick is required provide a specimen of his urine. The woman watching him provide the specimen states that for a hundred bucks, she would sell him her ‘piss’ as she had ‘stopped using the pipe two years ago’.
- An elderly lady, an ex-employee of Globodyne, grows cannabis in her house. Police raid her house and remove a large number of cannabis plants.
Nudity and sexual activity
- In one scene Jane walks into a shop in her nightie with a fair degree of cleavage exposed. The shop has ultraviolet lighting, which accentuates her cleavage and breasts.
- Dick and Jane are sitting on their bed, with Jane wearing a pyjama top only, her legs and upper thighs are exposed and a small degree of cleavage is shown. Dick is wearing his pyjama top and bottom, and they are being mildly affectionate towards each other. Jane states, ‘We should have sex on Saturday’. At this suggestion, they become somewhat more passionate towards each other, hugging and panting, but then abruptly get into bed, turn out their bedside lights, roll over and go to sleep. This is portrayed humorously.
- Dick and Jane are sitting in the car, having committed their first robbery. They become sexually excited, jumping on each other, kissing and passionately embracing. The scene is portrayed humorously and is cut at that point, with the implication that they go on to have sex in the car.
This movie contains infrequent mild to medium-level coarse language.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Fun with Dick and Jane is a satire of upper middle-class America and the corporate world, and portrays the transformation of Dick’s value system. It is tailored to an adult audience. The film contains some very funny and clever scenes. Carrey and Leoni perform very well together, but the plot falls a little short towards the end.
Two key values portrayed in the movie are how partners can support each other through hardship, and the importnace of helping others, not just yourself (this is related to how Dick seeks financial compensation for all Globodyne employees not just himself). You could talk with your child about what would happen in real life to people who commit the offences that Dick and Jane commit. Another issue you could discuss is how society and popular press can lead people into a ‘keeping up with the Jones’s’ mentality and lose sight of their values. You could also talk about how stealing cannot be viewed as a justifiable means to an end regardless of the circumstances.