Summary Judgment: 'Cheaper,' 'Rumor,' 'Fun with Dick and Jane'

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In this edition of Slate magazine's weekly round up of the latest movie reviews, writer Mark Jordan Legan surveys critical comment on new releases. This week's releases include Cheaper By the Dozen 2, Rumor Has It and Fun with Dick and Jane.


This is DAY TO DAY. I'm Alex Chadwick.

From Hollywood, studio cinematic gifts for this holiday weekend. Lumps of coal or just what you wanted? The online magazine Slate compiles our weekly digest of what the critics are saying. Here's Mark Jordan Legan.


First up in wide release, we have the comedy "Fun With Dick and Jane." Based on the 1977 film that starred Jane Fonda and George Siegel, this time around Jim Carrey and Tea Leoni play the well-to-do couple who, after corporate downsizing and such, turn to crime to keep up their lavish lifestyle.

(Soundbite of "Fun With Dick and Jane")

Mr. JIM CARREY: (As Dick Harper) All right, everybody, two iced mochas. Let's go. Move.

(Soundbite of crashing, screaming)

CARREY: (As Dick Harper) Oh, jeez! Are you OK, hon?

Ms. TEA LEONI: (As Jane Harper) I'm OK.

Mr. CARREY: (As Dick Harper) All right, nobody try to follow us 'cause we're desperate criminals. We're crazy people!

Are these non-fat muffins? Are they non-fat muffins?

Unidentified Actor: Yeah, I think so.

Mr. CARREY: (As Dick Harper) Oh, jeez, hon, you got to get some of those.

LEGAN: The nation's critics weren't very jolly about this one. The Hollywood Reporter snaps, `A shrill remake that opts for shtick over satire.' The Arizona Republic complains, `There are funny bits, but too few of them. "Fun With Dick and Jane" just isn't all that fun.' And the Chicago Sun-Times says, `The movie avoids the rich opportunities and turns to tired slapstick.'

Next up is the romantic comedy from director Rob Reiner "Rumor Has It..." Jennifer Aniston stars as a woman who discovers just before her own wedding that her family might have been the actual inspiration for the classic novel and movie "The Graduate." Kevin Costner and Shirley MacLaine also star.

Unidentified Actress #1: Well, did you sleep with a man who also slept with Mom and Grandma Katharine?

Unidentified Actress #2: What? You slept with Dad? Dad slept with Grandma Katharine? Ew!

Unidentified Actor #1: No!

Ms. SHIRLEY MacLAINE: (As Katharine Richelieu) God. Come on, even I'm not that twisted!

Unidentified Actress #2: All right, from the beginning, and don't leave out a thing.

LEGAN: The critics say naughty, not nice. The New York Times gripes, `Buried deep inside this misbegotten comedy is the glimmer of an idea.' The Washington Post warns, `The fictional Mrs. Robinson would be horrified to watch "Rumor Has It...," a lifeless comedy that uses her liaison for its torturous premise.' And The Village Voice growls, `Rumor had it this was a stinker and it is.' Whew! Well, ho, ho, ho.

And we close with another wide-release comedy, "Cheaper by the Dozen 2." Yes, the Bakers are back and there's no one to blame but the people who went en masse to see the first one in 2003! Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt return as the heads of a large family who go toe-to-toe with another family in an all-out summer vacation competition. Eugene Levy also stars.

(Soundbite of "Cheaper by the Dozen 2")

Unidentified Actress #3: I can help you--Hi!--as long as I don't do time for the crime.

Mr. STEVE MARTIN (Actor): (As Steve Baker) Hey, guys, hi!

Mr. EUGENE LEVY (Actor): (As Jimmy Murtaugh) Done.

Unidentified Actress #3: No grounding.

Mr. LEVY: (As Jimmy Murtaugh) Huh-uh.

Unidentified Actress #3: No allowance dockage.

Mr. LEVY: (As Jimmy Murtaugh) Nuh-uh.

Unidentified Actress #3: No boring spiel about the difference between right and wrong?

Mr. LEVY: (As Jimmy Murtaugh) Mmm.

Unidentified Actress #3: And you have no problem with the methods that I choose?

Unidentified Actress #4: Hey!

Mr. LEVY: (As Jimmy Murtaugh) Your contract, do with it what you will.

(Soundbite of flute)

Mr. LEVY: (As Jimmy Murtaugh) Agreed?

Unidentified Actress #3: Agreed.

Mr. MARTIN: (As Tom Baker) Hey, give Daddy a hug.

Mr. LEVY: (As Jimmy Murtaugh) Nail 'em.

LEGAN: Uh, sorry, I just relay the reviews and the critics really say `Bah, humbug!' this time. `Bland, canned, but studiously professional,' cries Variety. `A cheerless sequel to an uninspired remake,' yells the New York Daily News. And The Boston Globe calls it `noisy, silly, gratingly upbeat and piously sentimental.' So Christmas is two days away. What better way to escape your own crazy family than by paying money to see a movie about someone else's crazy family? Of course, in Hollywood movies like "Cheaper by the Dozen 2," it all works out in the end while in reality your Uncle Buddy drowns your condescending cousin in the eggnog.

Happy holidays, everyone!

CHADWICK: Mark Jordan Legan is a writer in Los Angeles.

DAY TO DAY will return in just a moment. I'm Alex Chadwick.

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