January 19, 2013
Kirsten Dunst, Michelle Williams, and Dan Hedaya
You can't let Dick control your life.
Dick is a quirky little comedy that came out in 1999 but
never really made a splash or found much of an audience.
And if you watch it today, it is easy to see why.
It was a
movie for forty year olds that they had to market to fifteen
olds. It was a clever satire of politics in the 70's that
can only work if you market it as a teen movie. No wonder it
flopped so badly at the box office.
of all the movies that have ever been made in Hollywood, there are very
few that were a harder sell from a marketing perspective than this one
If you are not familiar with this movie (and believe me, most people
aren't), Dick is the story of two teenage girls from 1972 named Betsy
Arlene. They are played by Kirsten Dunst and Michelle
who are both outstanding.
Betsy and Arlene
Betsy and Arlene are high school students in Washington D.C. in 1972,
and they aren't particularly noteworthy high school students.
They aren't particularly bright high school students either.
As a matter of fact, according
to one memorable quote in the movie, "I have met yams with more going
on upstairs than these two."
Well Arlene happens to live in the Watergate Apartments in Washington
D.C. In 1972. So you can guess where this is going.
night Arlene and Betsy are sneaking downstairs to mail a
letter to the Bobby Sherman Fan Club. And in the process of
around the building they accidentally run into the Watergate burglars.
They catch G. Gordon Liddy and his boys red handed as they
trying to break into the Democratic National Office. Of
being that they are teenage girls, Betsy and Arlene have no
what they just saw or the implications of what this is about to mean.
All they know is that they saw some men doing
something weird in a stairwell, and that they were yelled at and told
to go home by some mean old guy with a
Sneaking out at night to mail a letter to Bobby Sherman
Well a couple of days later Betsy and Arlene are visiting the
White House on a school tour. And as they are taking the
is pointed out to President Nixon that these are the girls who
witnessed the Watergate break in last week.
So Nixon immediately swoops in to do some damage control.
befriends Betsy and Arlene. And in an attempt to get them on
side, he offers them a job on his staff as his official White House dog
walkers. From here on out, they are allowed to come and go in
White House as they please. All they have to do is come over
every day and walk Checkers. And not tell anyone or say
anything about what they saw at the Watergate. From now on,
he wants them to be his super secret undercover Youth Advisors.
The President telling the girls they are his new super secret Youth
I don't want to spoil the rest of the movie for you, since so much of
the fun in this movie is watching how it develops and how it intersects
with real history, but let's just say that Betsy and Arlene become
pivotal figures in the fall of President Richard Nixon, aka
Or "Dick" as they call him, hence the name of the movie.
The girls who accidentally took down the President
Dick is one of those movies that I enjoy more and more the more times I
watch it. There are just so many fun little scenes in it.
And all the little details and character quirks and
historical touches are absolutely perfect. But it all starts
with Betsy and Arlene. This is one of
those movies that is COMPLETELY dependent on the actors who are playing
the lead roles, and Kirsten Dunst and Michelle Williams are both spot
on perfect. I can think of very few actors who could pull
off believable teenagers from the 70's as well as those two did.
start to finish the two of them completely own this movie.
Betsy trying to seduce a Secret Service agent with her new lip smacker
Arlene singing an Olivia Newton John song onto Nixon's secret recording
Arlene having a dream segment where she rides a horse with the President
Aside from Dunst and Williams, I should also point out that the guy who
plays President Nixon (Dan
Hedaya) is amazing. In fact, if you read through the IMDB
movie reviews, his performance is the one that gets singled out the
most. All you will see, review in and review out is "Fun
great 70's soundtrack. Hedaya is amazing." And he
is. I'm not really old enough to know what Nixon was like in
life all that well (I was born in 1974), but everyone who IS old enough
movie and they tend to say the exact same thing. Yep, that's
Nixon. Hedaya nailed it.
In fact, I have heard many people say that Hedaya's portrayal of
Richard Nixon in Dick is the best
impersonation of Richard Nixon ever.
"Checkers shut up, or I'll feed you to the Chinese!"
There is really no word to describe the movie Dick
better than the word "fun." It is just a fun movie.
the acting, to the storyline, to the bizarre screenplay, to the
wardrobes, to the soundtrack, it is just fun. Oh, and that
soundtrack. Dick has an AMAZING soundtrack. It is
to wall hits from the early 70's, and nearly every single one of them
is perfect for the scene it is used in the movie. I would
put Dick in my top twenty movie soundtracks of all time.
I wasn't exactly alive in 1973, so I have no idea how accurate the
soundtrack is for the time period. But I have a lot of
who WERE alive in 1973, and who in particular were teenagers
1973, and they all say that the music is perfect.
One of the
phrases I hear I lot when I hear people talk about this movie is "Wow,
it was exactly like reliving my teen years." Because
the clothes and the lingo and the background details are just
perfect as the music is. Whoever made this movie really did
their 1973 homework.
Right down to the wardrobes and the H.R. Haldeman haircut
Dick isn't what I would call a perfect comedy. Even though it
is only 90 minutes, it still feels like it is about 15 minutes too
long. And it never quite takes off into the
stratosphere like most of the great comedies will do. It just
kind of hovers around the pleasant, fun, cute zone for most of the
movie. But still, it is a movie that in no way ever should
been a bomb at the box office. Like I said before, it is a
and fun comedy for forty year olds that the studio had to market to
fifteen year olds. It is a good movie.
There was just no way to market it.
Oh, and Woodward and Bernstein come off looking like complete tools
you are a fan of cute little fun comedies, you should see Dick.
If you are a fan of Michelle Williams or Kirsten Dunst, you
should see Dick. If you are a student of American history at
especially history from the 70's or political history, you should see
Dick. And hey,
if you just want to see a clever little movie that is much more
intelligent than it appears, you should see Dick. It is one
those movies that I recommend to a lot of people, and nearly every
person I recommend it to comes back and tells me that they
liked it. And this is
particularly true for anyone who lived through Watergate and who
remembers what the 70's were like. This movie nails the early
70's right down to the egg shaped TVs.
And, of course, the clothing
the end, Dick reminds me a lot of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure.
It is movie about history that is way more intelligent and
written than you think it will be, but the storyline is so ridiculous
that it can only work if the lead actors are perfect.
And, well, just like Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves are perfect
in Bill and
Ted's, Kirsten Dunst and Michelle Williams are both perfect in
So both movies work much better than they should.
Also, both movies have great music, fun inside jokes, memorable
dialogue, and a ton of perfect little background details.
See Dick. It is a fun little movie.
It is time to stop being frightened of Dick.
An American tragedy
You suck, Dick
favorite IMDB user reviews about Dick:
Overlooked and hilarious
- 15 February 2001
was a huge bomb when it came out in 1999--it was badly advertised and
disappeared quickly. That's a shame because it's a very fun movie. If
ever a film should be rediscovered, it's this one. Two very dumb
teenage girls (beautifully played by Kirsten Dunst and Michelle
Williams) in the early 70s, get separated from their tour of the White
House, and accidentally meet Nixon. They start walking his dog Checkers
and, inadvertently, discover all about Watergate without even knowing
it! It sounds silly (and it is) but damned if it doesn't work! Dunst
and Williams are totally believable (and very lovable) as the
teenagers. Dan Hedaya does a perfect interpretation of Nixon. As for
everybody else, I couldn't tell you. I'm no whiz on Watergate and who
Nixon's staff was in the 70s. But the script is sharp, everyone has
wonderful comic timing and the best bits were done by Will Ferrell and
Bruce McCulloch who make Woodward and Bernstein out to be total idiots.
Also an excellent selection of 70s songs which always complement the
action. The final gag played on Nixon is uproarious! Well worth
One of the funniest
movies I've ever seen -14 January 2000
feel for those who had the unenviable job of marketing this movie. Who
do you aim it at? Teens, most of whom know nothing about Nixon and
Watergate, or adults, who will dismiss it as being another obnoxious,
dumb teen comedy? Hence the box office failure. But what true hidden
gem this film is! The writers have managed to put elements into this
film that will be able to please the entire spectrum of viewers and
knowledge of the Watergate scandal is not at all required to enjoy this
hilarious film, but if you happen to have a grasp on its history, your
enjoyment will increase tenfold. The performances of everyone involved
are top-notch with special notice going to Dan Hedaya (Nixon
dead-on)and Michelle Williams (watch her shy expressions and mannerisms
as she develops her crush on Nixon. Priceless!). Many, many scenes left
me laughing hysterically (the beach dream scene, Haldeman's
interrogation of the girls, Hello Dolly meets Breshnev, Bernstein
hovering over Woodward at the Post). Add great music, costumes, sets
and a fitting ending, and you've got a great movie experience. Don't
miss it!!! (And for a treat watch this as a double bill with ALL THE
All in good fun - 23
am a history teacher and if I tried to spot all the anachronisms and
historical mistakes, this film would drive me crazy. However, it's all
intended as good old silly fun and I had no trouble letting go of my
usual habit of spotting the goofs.
The film is like combining a
dopey teen comedy (such as CLUELESS) with history--in this case, the
last years of the Nixon presidency and all its scandals. Again and
again, these Forrest Gump-like airheads stumble into one plot after
another and accidentally trigger the events that led to the exposure of
the Watergate conspiracy. The film begins with the girls stumbling into
G. Gordon Liddy during his burglary of the DNC office and culminate
with their giving Dick Nixon a rousing send-off at the end of the film.
all the silly situations in the film, I particularly liked the movie's
explanation for the missing 18 and 1/2 minutes on the Nixon tapes as
well as the way Woodward and Bernstein were portrayed. However, these
are just two of many silly and cute moments.
Overall, a great
laugh--particularly for those old enough to notice all the references
in the film (such as the plumbers and Checkers--who was a Cocker
Spaniel, not a pointer, by the way).
like seeing my teen years
again - 21 June 2006
this - like walking through my HS yearbook, looking at the clothes,
hearing the music. Especially loved the scene where Arlene and Betsy
talk about their white house experiences to two VERY different teachers
- Betsy gets kudos from her hippie teacher who thinks it is all a very
creative writing endeavor, and poor Arlene is vilified by her strict
old school English teacher for writing a treason-filled paper about the
president. I -SO- remember having teachers from both ends of the
I probably was about 15 during Watergate, and I think
the depiction of these girls at that age, relating to the politics of
the era (at first no interest), then as it started to affect them -
(brother possibly drafted), the awakening of interest and action, was
right on target for the way I was.
laughs are fun, the girls do well, as do so many of "the boys" from
Canada, and Will Ferell and others. Great soundtrack also.
A total charmer - 3 April
have to say that this film plays out like a dream if you enjoy seeing
Kirsten Dunst really rip into a role. It's wildly uneven, but there are
so many sweet moments of confusion, with double-entendres and minor
drug jokes to boot. It's a fun show to see Dunst as well as Michelle
Williams wonder through the Watergate scandal, at first sheepishly and
by accident, but slowly changing their motivation to the bigger issues.
This is a coming of age film that functions as political satire. Dan
Hedaya is also an appropriate Nixon for this film, taking on the role
with enough conviction to make us forget who he is as an actor. There
are many parts of the film that are classics in their own right, such
as Williams' slowly falling for "Dick" and what was really deleted from
the 18 1/2 minutes of tape.
this is a very cute film that is lighter than air to watch. The joy of
watching Dunst and Williams going through an odyssey of the dark side
of politics is something that could warrant many viewings of this film.
It's not necessarily a great film, but it is one that you could watch
20 times without it losing much of its charm.
Very enjoyable warped
time-capsule - 21 November 2000
is one of the most truly enjoyable comedies I've seen in quite some
time. Some part of that reaction is surely attributable to the fact
that I grew up watching the whole Watergate scandal unfold, but--to
some extent--the movie works regardless of your familiarity with the
details of that time period.
Saul Rubinek as Kissinger is
side-splitting, Dan Hedaya as Nixon is just about perfect, and Harry
Shearer, Will Ferrell and the two leads all hit the right notes in
their portrayals (or, in some instances, caricatures). My favorite bit,
among many, is the real story of the 18 1/2 minute gap in the Nixon
tapes. The occasional direct parodies of All the President's Men
(obviously the serious movie to see about these events) are also
excellent. Nice integration of mostly very familiar songs into the
narrative and as background.
If you weren't fortunate (really!)
enough to live through all this, and can extrapolate from the comedy
into how this all might really have come down, this really is about as
close as you can get to both the seriousness of the situation and the
relative underlying innocence of the seventies.
Love this one - 7 July
is one of my favorites, and I watch it every few years. Obviously,this
was an important event in history, and one that has achieved mythical
status. Clearly it was ripe for satire. And, if you lived through this
era, you probably have preconceived ideas about this whole Watergate
thing. But, then you watch Dick.
It's a totally funny satire,
and it has good performances from a lot of quality actors-- some pretty
early in their careers. Plus, it has a great soundtrack! I also
appreciate the decor-- all that grass cloth and polyester.
You can't let dick control your life! So true.
favorite quotes from Dick:
How dare those people treat us like we're stupid teenage girls.
We -are- stupid teenage girls.
No. We're human beings, and we're American citizens. And four score and
seven years ago our forefathers... did something.
Checkers, shut up. Or I'll feed you to the Chinese.
Excuse me, Mr. President. I was not informed that you were in the
middle of... what the hell ARE you in the middle of?
[Betsy and Arlene angrily resign from Nixon's staff]
Because you kicked Checkers... you're prejudiced... and you HAVE A
We have a very important school report on turquoise jewelry due in two
days, and we can't find any books on it, and the President's having us
followed. It's too much pressure.
Rose Mary Woods:
Girls, the President's dog doesn't "poop." He "does his business."
[Betsy and Arlene angrily confront Nixon in the Oval Office]
We think you haven't been completely honest with us.
Let me tell you, if it's about that goddamn Watergate! I tell you, I
had NOTHING to do with it, you hear? It's those goddamn Woodward and
Bernstein! They're out to get me!
Arlene Lorenzo: [Stunned
silence] Actually it was just about the dog.
You act like you like him. But we don't think you do.
It's alright, gentlemen. I'm familiar with these two young ladies.
Well, not "familiar", familiar, obviously.
Dick frightens me!
[Betsy and Arlene spot G. Gordon Liddy in the White House]
Hey, that guy has T.P. stuck to his shoe.
Hey, mister! Hey! Hey, you, hey turn around, mister!
G. Gordon Liddy:
Young lady, I am a VERY busy man.
Wait a minute, I know you.
Me too. But from where?
[thinks for a second, then gasps]
Are you the guy who sells corndogs at the mall?
Because of your thoughtlessness, we've missed the field trip lunch at
McDonald's - which the students on the other buses are now enjoying. We
will return to school, for a *cold* lunch. In the cafeteria.
Are you the President's dog trainer?
I'm John Dean, Chief White House Council.
Oh. That's too bad.
got a way with young people. They trust me.
favorite scene in Dick:
The end of the movie is great, but my two favorite scenes in Dick
are the scene at the beginning where the schoolteacher tells the class
about their White
House field trip ("We will be going in the White House".
is silent* "Then afterwards we will be having lunch at
McDonalds." *class cheers*). And I absolutely love
dream segment where she falls in love with Nixon and they ride around
together on a white horse on the beach. I love whoever came
with that montage and set it to Love's Theme.
is one other funny little moment in the movie that always makes me
smile. Nixon is taking Arlene and Betsy on a tour of the
House, and for whatever reason he thinks that he knows what young
people in America will be impressed by. So as he is walking
painting on the wall he says something like "Oh, and here's a
painting of a bowl." It is just a quick little random one
but it is so stupid and so perfect for Nixon that I always watch for it.
at the IMDB
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