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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 1/17/00

1999 (1999) - Columbia TriStar

review by Todd Doogan of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Dick Film Rating: B+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/A/A

Specs and Features

94 mins, PG-13, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, full frame (1.33:1), dual-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, commentary track with writer/director Andrew Fleming and co-writer Sheryl Longin, 1 deleted scene, blooper reel, "making-of" featurette, 3 theatrical trailers (forDick, Can't Hardly Wait and Spice World), isolated film soundtrack, cast and crew bios, film-themed menu screens, scene access (28 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1 & 2.0), subtitles: English, Closed Captioned

Here's one of 1999's lost classics -- a film hardly anyone saw, but many should have. Frankly, I can't figure out why this film didn't make more money than it did, because it's funny, charming, witty and features a really inspired and talented cast.

Here's the story of this nice bit of revisionist history: two ditzy 15-year-old best friends, Betsy and Arlene (Michelle Williams and Kirsten Dunst), happen upon the Watergate burglary while sending a love note to Bobby Sherman, and eventually shape the downfall of Nixon. Along for the ride are "all the president's men" -- John Dean (played with sincere tact by Jim Breuer), Bob Haldeman (a vigorous and funny Dave Foley) and a dead-on G. Gordon Liddy impersonation by Harry Shearer. There's an uncanny performance by Dan Hedaya (who totally nails President Nixon), and his Kissinger is Saul Rubinek (who does a pretty good job as well). Each one of these actors shines in their respective parts, but I think a majority of the film belongs to Woodward (Will Ferrell) and Bernstein (Bruce McCullough) in their little-seen roles. Ferrell and McCullough are hilarious and work so well together. Sure, these are stupid caricatures -- but they're caricatures of what many Americans, looking back on the situation, have in their minds. Dick is the direct opposite of All The President's Men and it works as a comedy. This isn't brain surgery you know.

I found the DVD to be better than I expected. The picture is really quite good. These were colorful times and this film and disc show it well -- especially in the excellent 16x9 transfer. The sound work is also great. You get Dolby Digital in 5.1 and 2.0, and there's an isolated soundtrack as well, showcasing some great songs. There are also quite a few extras. You get a deleted scene, a funny blooper reel, a "making-of" featurette, a host of trailers and a commentary track featuring the writers and the director (who also wrote). Sheryl Login and Andrew Fleming crafted a nice script here and they have a lot to say. But I think they missed an opportunity with this track, which was talking about what really happened in Watergate, and how they twisted events around to suit the film. I'm sure that a world of people who had no idea about Watergate enjoyed this film, but the references where lost. If you're not like 38-years-old, most of this stuff went over your head. The film's production is discussed, as is how hard it was to get the props (remedied when a warehouse full of period stuff was located). But I think a little history lesson would have worked better -- that's my opinion. Still, the track is fun to listen to and never gets boring. You can tell that Login and Fleming had a good time recording it. Added to the mix of extras, it rounds out a very enjoyable DVD special edition.

I hope more people get a chance to see this film, because it's very funny and entertaining. Video has a way of finding audiences for deserving movies like this. And on DVD, this little gem shines.

Todd Doogan

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