Movie Review By Monica Sullivan
When I first heard the plot of "Dick," my immediate reaction was: A TEENAGER IN LOVE WITH NIXON? COME ON! When I learned that the teenager was going to be played by Dawson's Creek's Michelle Williams, the premise seemed even more unlikely. But then I went to see "Dick" last Friday night with three adults and a couple of nine-year-old girls and I found myself laughing so hard that I expected an usher to evict me from the theatre any second. There isn't much that's funny about the real Watergate, unless you count G. Gordon Liddy's subsequent acting career, but "Dick," identified as "fiction," must be set in an alternate reality where the burglary and cover-up ARE funny, because they're seen from the skewed perspective of two girls who begin the movie by composing a love letter to Bobby Sherman. Oddly the leap from "Here Come the Brides" to the Oval Office isn't as quantum in nature as we might think. Michelle Williams and Kirsten Dunst are Arlene Lorenzo and Betsy Jobs, who stumble into the Watergate burglars late one night AND into the President himself while on a White House tour. He invites his awe-struck, giggly visitors to become official dog wa1kers and youth advisers. In return, they make him some cookies with a secret ingredient called Hello Dollies which are a big hit in the West Wing.
One day, when Nixon is blathering on about something or other, he instantly replaces Bobby Sherman in Arlene's affections. Next thing we know, Arlene's transformed her bedroom into a shrine to Dick, crossing out Pat's face, of course, and doodling Mrs. Arlene Nixon in her notebook. In some weird parallel world, that just might be possible when Dan Hedaya, the hilarious father from "Clueless," is cast in the title role. Hedaya, who's turned down the role of Nixon a number of times, is no less hilarious here: getting stoned on Hello Dollies, attempting teen speak and, in one mind-boggling dream sequence, declaring his love for Arlene while riding a horse. The supporting cast is extremely well-chosen, with Devon Gummersall as Larry, Betsy's perpetually stoned brother, Will Ferrell and Bruce McCullough as a swishy Woodward and Bernstein, G.D. Spradlin as Ben Bradlee, Dave Foley as Haldeman, Jim Breuer as John Dean, Saul Rubinek as Kissinger and Harry Shearer as Liddy. Best of all are Dunst and Williams as Betsy and Arlene, beautifully evoking the insatiable hero worship and inevitable disillusionment of two best friends who find themselves front and center in Washington's biggest scandal. Too bad it didn't happen this way. "Dick" would make a terrific triple feature with two other weird tales of obsessive teen worship, "The World of Henry Orient" and "Heavenly Creatures."
© 1999 - Monica Sullivan - Air Date: 8/11/99
"Movie Magazine International" Movie Review Index
"Movie Magazine International" Home Page