Tell director Dean Parisot that you’re not too familiar with 1977’s Jane Fonda-George Segal version of Fun With Dick and Jane — about a well-heeled husband and wife who resort to a life of crime when their hefty cash flow stops — and he responds: ”That’s a good thing! The other was a social satire very much a part of the ’70s.” He adds, ”What intrigued me the most was how this couple’s plight would play out now, at the beginning of the 21st century.” So here Jim Carrey and Téa Leoni’s Dick and Jane become robbers after an Enron-like collapse puts a San Diego-esque town out of work and leaves them ”driven mad trying to hold on to their typical American life until they finally blow a gasket,” Parisot says.
The result (co-written by The 40 Year-Old Virgin’s Judd Apatow) is ”hilarious,” Carrey says, ”but it’s also kind of socially relevant and interesting.” Not unlike the movie’s interesting two-year-plus journey back to the screen, involving, at various intervals, director Barry Sonnenfeld, writers Joel and Ethan Coen, and actress Cameron Diaz. All that behind him, Parisot was pleased to return to the feature-directing chair for the first time since 1999’s critically admired satire Galaxy Quest to work with Carrey, with whom he’d been bouncing around movie ideas for years. ”Serious is the wrong word — he’s actually incredibly focused and committed and specific,” the director says of Carrey’s demeanor on set. ”But within that context he can be the silliest person you’ve ever seen.”