Oooh, Lorne Michæls has a lot to answer for. The progenitor of “Saturday Night Live” changed the face of comedy in America forever, but it’s been mostly downhill ever since. When the show debuted in 1975, it broke new ground and launched a series of new talents that blanket the industry today.
The last ten years have not been kind. The show has lost focus from creating funny skits to generating thinly veiled movie pitches. What would have been funny for five minutes on thowaway sets loses some luster well before it hits 90 minutes of mugging.
Sure, “The Blues Brothers” was great, but “A Night at the Roxbury” and “Stewart Saves His Family” don’t highlight anyone’s resume.
In “Dick”, 15-year-old girls Betsy (Kirsten Dunst) and Arlene (Michelle Williams), effectively the female Bill and Ted, are in the Watergate Hotel when the break-in occurs. Over the course of the film, the two become involved with Nixon (Dan Hedaya) and his staff. They soon become responsible for the end of the Vietnam war, Soviet peace accords, and some of Nixon’s signature gestures. They also get involved with the investigation by a bumbling team of Bob Woodward (Will Ferrell) and Carl Bernstein (Bruce McCulloch). Gratuitous slapstick ensues.
You know not to expect any resemblance to reality when the film opens with the reporters starting a fistfight on a talkshow (hosted by French Stewart from TV’s “3rd Rock From the Sun”) where Woodward tells Bernstein he smells like cabbage. While Lorne Michæls didn’t actually have anything to do with this film, between and SNL and the Michæls’ produced “Kids in the Hall”, six roles including the Pulitzer Prize winning journalists and most of the President’s staff went to veterans of his comedic school of diminishing returns. Blame director and co-writer Andrew Fleming for reproducing the effect of a film where the laughter dies down soon after the audience tires of the one joke.
The filmmakers can’t win either way. If they’re too successful at reproducing realistic banter between a pair of teenage girls, any adult would still run screaming for the exits. Save yourself the trouble. You can go see “South Park”. You can go see “American Pie”. Just don’t let yourself get DICK’ed out of eight bucks.