Kirsten Dunst in 'Dick'
Dunst as Betsy Jobs in 'Dick'

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'Dick': ditzy retelling of Watergate scandal
By Sara Lyle

At the end of the movie "Dick," Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward, played by SNL's Will Ferrell, solemnly tells his infamous "Deep Throat" sources that he'll never reveal their identities.

One of the them asks, "For our own protection, huh?"

"No, it's just too embarrassing," he explains to the wide-eyed 15-year-olds who gained access to President Nixon after landing a dog-walking gig during a tour of the White House.

Set to '70s sounds like the Jackson 5 and Abba, "Dick" spoofs everything from the Trickster himself (played by Dan Hedaya) to twitchy journalist Carl Bernstein (Bruce McCulloch), with whom Woodward earned a Pulitzer Prize in 1973 for uncovering the Watergate scandal.

But its unlikely heroines, Betsy Jobs (Kirsten Dunst) and Arlene Lorenzo (Michelle Williams), steal the show and, eventually, the missing White House recordings that bring Dick down.

The ditzy duo, decked out in their best bellbottoms and go-go boots, infiltrate Nixon's paranoid presidency after innocently pointing out a top-secret document bubble-gummed to the bottom of a spy's shoe. Jobs and Lorenzo then giggle their way into Nixon's and his staffers' hearts and are invited back regularly to walk Checkers the pup, talk foreign policy and supply staffers with homemade, marijuana-enhanced "Hello Dollies."

It's the latter, when offered in the midst of a Cold War crisis to Russian Prime Minister Breschnev, that Nixon proclaims, "saved the world from nuclear catastrophe."

Just as the girls never realize they're adding Jobs' brother's pot to their cookies ("How come there are little green leaves in the walnuts?" Lorenzo cluelessly asks her friend.), they also don't understand their pivotal access to the information Woodward and Bernstein desperately desire.

Well, not until they confront Nixon about the hidden reels they listened to when his secretary left her desk.

"You kick Checkers; you're prejudiced; and you have a potty mouth!" lambastes Jobs before the two resign from their positions as "Secret Youth Advisers."

They head home, watch the unfolding Watergate scandal on TV and (after Jobs' brother gets in trouble for viewing a porn called, what else, "Deep Throat") decide to prank call the "radical, muck-raking bastards," as Nixon dubs his Washington Post foes.

From that point on, the movie goes into high gear. Jobs and Lorenzo are followed by a van with "The Plumbers" painted on the side. (History buffs may remember this was Nixon's term for staffers hired to plug up leaks to the press.) A furious Woodward and Bernstein track them down in a library and accuse them of giving the reporters bad information during a recent haphazard phone call.

To which Jobs wails about a turquoise-jewelry essay she and Lorenzo have due as well as the fact that they were almost mowed down by Nixon spies. "It's too much pressure!" she shrieks.

The pair then vow to get the information the reporters, and the nation, need so their lives can get back to normal.

They deliver, and so does "Dick's" cast. Much like Alicia Silverstone in "Clueless," Williams and Dunst play the part of innocent dimwits without making the audience annoyed at their bubbleheaded antics.

Williams' Lorenzo, the slightly more intelligent of the two, affects a nasal voice, helping audience members forget her regular role as bad girl Jennifer on "Dawson's Creek."

Ferrell and McCulloch paint an outlandish Woodward and Bernstein, as much out to get one another as they were Tricky Dick. Likewise, Hedaya's hilarious Nixon makes the only U.S. president ever to resign almost likeable.

After said resignation, Nixon and wife, Pat, take their final helicopter flight from the White House. They pass over Jobs and Lorenzo, who are on Jobs' parents' roof, wearing gaudy, hand-sewn American flag outfits and waving a hand-painted banner.

"You suck, Dick. Love, Deep Throat," it reads.

"Dick," the movie, doesn't suck at all.


8/13/99