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Here's what Moriarty knows about DICK

While it is sometimes said in shadowy corners, in backalley whispers that Moriarty doesn't know dick, I can assure you that at least as of tonight... Moriarty does in fact know DICK, so just shut your mouth about the dear professor. For tonight, whilst I watched 7 seconds of John Holmes' dick at the Dobie in 3-D, Moriarty was watching a DICK of another sorts in Los Angeles... And here is his final assessment of DICK...

Hey, Head Geek...

"Moriarty" here.

I was working late at the Moriarty Labs the other night, trying to devise a way to sneak into a screening of the upcoming Columbia comedy DICK when the studio actually threw a wrench in my plans by doing the unthinkable -- they invited me to see it.

Damn! All my subterfuge, wasted. It almost took the joy out of my drive over to the Sony lot, but by the time my henchmen and I parked under the giant billboards for BIG DADDY, MUPPETS IN SPACE, and DICK, I was in a better mood, ready to laugh.

It's a good thing, too, since DICK is a sly, charming little film with one of the year's most original comic concepts. The press notes for the film describe it as "CLUELESS meets ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN," and I suppose that's a good way to shorthand it, but I honestly didn't expect a picture that was as wise about the Watergate era as this one was. It should be interesting to see if the audience that's the same age as the lead characters tune in to the film's snarky sense of humor and its specific historic references.

The film opens with French Stewart playing a talk show host who is interviewing Bob Woodward (Will Farrell) and Carl Bernstein (Bruce McCulloch) about the identity of the still-mysterious "Deep Throat." In this one scene, director Andy Fleming and his co-writer Sheryl Longin reveal just how much they know about the real Woodward and Bernstein, but they also manage to establish that this is a fantasy fairy tale version of the real world. People are definitely recongnizable, but everything's heightened to great comic effect.

From there, we're right into the meat of the film, as the Jackson 5 standard "ABC" kicks in. I love the use of music in this film, and there were some brilliant choices for individual moments, including the best use of "You're So Vain" that I can imagine. It manages to be both funny and deeply poignant. As the film opens (with a very pointed visual reference to ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN), Arlene (Michelle Williams) and Betsy (Kirsten Dunst) are working together on Arlene's entry to the "Win A Date with Bobby Sherman" contest. They're in Arlene's bedroom at her Watergate apartment, with Mom (Teri Garr) asleep on the couch. The two girls are best friends, and it's a good thing, since neither one of them seems to connect with anyone else. They're both 15, giggly, blissfully unaware of the world around them.

When they finish the letter, they sneak out to mail it, taping open a door so they can sneak back in without waking Arlene's mom. What they don't know is that the Democratic National Committee office is being broken into at that exact moment, and their actions are going to trigger a chain of events that reveals to us, the viewer, an entire alternate history of Watergate that finally explains things like John Dean's resignation, the missing 18 1/2 minutes of tape, and the origin of Nixon's paranoia.

The thing that makes the film really pay off is the outstanding supporting cast. Dan Hedeya is Nixon, and he manages to make the role his own. Dave Foley is wonderful as Haldeman, Saul Rubinek does a wicked Kissinger, Jim Bruer does nice twitchy work as Dean, Harry Shearer is a suitably creepy G. Gordon Liddy, Ana Gasteyer etches a memorable Rosemary Woods in just a few scenes, and Farrell and McCulloch steal every frame of film they're in with their Woodstein performances. There's an image of them walking in slow motion through a newsroom that is worth the price of admission all by itself.

DICK isn't a film that's going to change the world, but it might just change your mind about Andrew Fleming. He's one of those guys who genuinely seems to learn from picture to picture, whose work is getting better and better. His last film, THE CRAFT, was a mildly successful picture with an outstanding collection of hot teenage girls. Fairuza Balk, Robin Tunney, Neve Campbell, and Rachel True in Catholic schoolgirl outfits with evil powers... what more could a mad scientist like me ask?

This time out, though, Fleming's really nailed a lot of the subtle moments, the smaller details. The world of the film is rich, lived in, and feels real. He's using teenage girls again, but the work by both Williams and Dunst goes way beyond the easy stereotypes they could have played. Williams is sweet and funny as Arlene, the dreamier of the two girls. She's the one who falls in love with Dick, convinced that he's a good man. She's also the one who wants revenge when she learns the truth about Tricky Dick. She's got sharp comic chops, and she really shows a bit of range here. This isn't anything like the work she does on DAWSON'S CREEK, and it's a refreshing change of pace for her. If this is any indication of what she's capable of, I hope she makes good use of each of her hiatuses.

Kirsten Dunst, though... oh, boy. I know I'm going to take heat for this. Hell, I fully expect to be beaten senseless in the TALK BACKS below, but I don't care. The Professor has been smitten. As of tonight, Heather Graham is now officially my ex-future wife. The lovely and funny Ms. Dunst has leapt to the top of my list. Pictures have been circulated to all the henchmen, and I don't care who knows it. She's been getting better and better as an actress over the years, even in slight movies like last year's SMALL SOLDIERS. In that film, when she finally starts fighting back and destroying the toys, watch the glee on her face as she cuts loose. When was the last time you saw an actor so engaged by a special effect? Now she's been given a role where she gets to be flat out funny, and she delivers. Between the scene where she distracts someone so Arlene can search Haldeman's house and the film's final images under the closing credits, I have had plenty of Evil thoughts for one night.

For anyone looking for a film that's a little harder to categorize than most, something that engages you brain and your funny bone in equal measures, DICK is an unexpected late summer delight, and well worth seeking out. Maybe I'll get lucky and enjoy myself at LAKE PLACID tomorrow. We'll see. Until then...

"Moriarty" out.

Readers Talkback
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  • July 8, 1999, 2:23 a.m. CST

    Not getting any heat from me.

    by mr whitefolks

    Oh hell man, I've been saying Kirsten Dunst was my future wife for YEARS. Right along with Natalie Portman, the chick from The Secret World Of Alex Mack, and Alyssa Milano. Personally I've been saying this film would be good since I saw the first trailer, and Moriarty's review only made me more determined. Hollywood got my letters. They made Dan Hayada play a US President. They reunited Bruce McCulloch and Dave Foley. They put Kirsten Dunst in a lead role! This is truely a movie made for me!

  • July 8, 1999, 2:47 a.m. CST

    WHO WANTS DICK

    by misterWINKIE

    so..the other day i was at my girlfriends house and she asked me if i wanted to see DICK. well i told her no. i dont like "DICK". so..then she started pressuring me and telling me that she heard that it was good. i told her i doubt it. it is something i aint interested in. she also told me it was humorous...and i told her...how can u find anything humorous in this??? so she told me if i wouldnt go with her to see DICK that she was going to go with her friend to see DICK... DICK...TOGETHER...i said .hell no...you better not...i dont think it would be safe....then she told me that her and her friend were going to go see DICK cuz it is cheaper before 5---and it only cost $5...WTF !!!!!.....so thats when i broke up with her....later i found out what she was talking about...a movie...*sigh*....so now i have tried to get her back..but she wont come...so i guess i will just suffer .....well........i guess i'll be single until hollywood comes out with "PUSSY".........*sigh*....

  • July 8, 1999, 5:40 a.m. CST

    Dick

    by W. Leach

    I didn't know dick about this movie (except for a little blurb in Entertainment Weekly's summer movie preview) before I read this review. Thanks, Moriarty. This will certainly be one for me to catch this summer.

  • July 8, 1999, 6:45 a.m. CST

    Getting Hell

    by Stefka

    Look, this is like the third time that I have said this. I don't care if you want to say how hot teenage girls (that would be illegal to have sex with) that's dandy with me. Yay freedom of speech! But make it both ways. I, for instance would like a review of Tom Cruise in Eyes Wide Shut like Harry's Heather Grahm rant in his Austin Powers review. (Although I know that I will never get it) Just, if you can, make your reviews both ways. Hell, get one of your female minions to do it. If you need female volunteers, I will be more than happy to help out! Really! But honestly, compared to some of the things that Harry has written - that was pretty delicately put.

  • July 8, 1999, 7:25 a.m. CST

    Girls love Dick

    by Sarcastro

    Hey Stefka, of course we all want to sleep with teenage girls. That's why there is a law against it. Can't wait to see this picture. I am a huge Nixon fan and combining him with hot chicks is the best thing since well hot chicks. If you want to slobber over little Tommy Cruise then write your own damn review.

  • July 8, 1999, 7:47 a.m. CST

    Eating Dick

    by StuEdwards

    Can't wait for the inevitable fast-food tie-ins...who wouldn't want to sink their teeth into a Dick Sandwich, or a Big Dick? How's about a Taco Bellend? Maybe they will launch a Dick Teaser Trailer?

  • July 8, 1999, 8:56 a.m. CST

    Kirsten

    by Threnody

    There is no doubt Kirsten is a kickass actor...altho she has yet to match the strength of her 'Interview...' role, I'm sure she will be fantastic in Dick. And boy is she pretty. She (along with Drew Barrymore) defies the rule that a cute kid will turn into an awkard looking young adult (that Culkin kid, and Cindy from the Brady Bunch being two prime examples). Oh, and to that guy that mentioned that girl from Alex Mack...her name is Larisa Oleynik, and did you catch her all grown up in that teen comedy '10 things...'?

  • July 8, 1999, 9:03 a.m. CST

    How much more fair can Harry get?

    by L0raX

    Apparently the nag above never read the review of Phantom Menace and 10 gay films Harry published a month or so ago. He not only covers "both" sides - he covers ALL sides! Shut up and start writing your own reviews if you want to see comments on Tom Cruise's ass in print.

  • July 8, 1999, 10:11 a.m. CST

    Disco Dolls in Hot Skin

    by dogbowl99

    Excellent 3D porno! Non-stop laughter throughout the whole film. They even have the nerve to give John "the wad" Holmes top billing even though he is only in it for a few seconds!

  • July 8, 1999, 12:23 p.m. CST

    Am I funny yet?

    by Tom Lee

    Well, it certainly seems like everyone loves Dick. Indeed, I think a little Dick will do everyone good. Anyone who dislikes this movie? They obviously don't know Dick. In fact, you might say that Dick is going to shoot white hot jets of semen all over the place its opening weekend at the box office. Or you could think of an original joke that hasn't been made a million times in the press already. Either way.

  • July 8, 1999, 1:04 p.m. CST

    Chicks with Dick

    by BadAshe

    Of course, it's not suprising to find a movie where 2 chicks want to spend alot of time with DICK. From all of the reviews, it seems that they are obsessed with DICK. The only problem I have is with the emotional content of this movie. How does it handle Nixon himself? I mean I'm sure that if my girlfriend goes with me to spend some time in a dark, and hopefully empty, theater the least she deserves is some seriously Deep DICK.

  • July 8, 1999, 1:21 p.m. CST

    Anyone else want to throw in another "dick" pun?

    by dennis

    Well, this trailer looks pretty funny. The comedic talent of the supporting cast involved is basically off the scale in my book. It's a Groundling fest. Dan Heyeda is one of the most gifted performers...everthing he does just brings a smile to my face. I hope this movie wipes WWW off the face of the earth.

  • What is he on about. GHET A TURKEY UP YOUR KNOWS. hey whats wrong with YOU!!!!!!! ILL TELL YOU WHAT ITS NOT LIKE THE OLD DAYS!!!!!!! Tune into the BIG BREAKIE 7 until 9. FFFFFFFF

  • July 8, 1999, 3:11 p.m. CST

    Dunst vs. Graham

    by MrNiceGuy

    Kirsten Dunst? That's a BIG step down, Moriarty. Dunst can't even live up to Graham's meager intelligence, and seems to lack personality. And that is completely ignoring the looks department. Graham wins, all across the board, even if she was exceedingly wooden in "The Spy Who Shagged Me".

  • My apologies to whomever i stole that joke from.

  • Aug. 10, 2006, 9:10 a.m. CST

    He loves the Dick.

    by Wolfpack