[Screen It]


(1999) (Kirsten Dunst, Michelle Williams) (PG-13)

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Comedy: Two bubbly but somewhat ditsy teens stumble into and then unknowingly affect the outcome of the Watergate scandal during the Nixon presidency.
Betsy Jobs (KIRSTEN DUNST) and Arlene Lorenzo (MICHELLE WILLIAMS) are two typical, but somewhat ditsy Washington, D.C. teens who are infatuated with singer Bobby Sherman during the early 1970s. When they sneak out of Arlene's apartment in the Watergate complex to mail a contest entry, the fifteen-year-olds accidently run into G. Gordon Liddy (HARRY SHEARER) -- as he and his cronies break into the Democratic National Headquarters -- and inadvertently cause the police to be called to the scene.

The next day while on a school tour of the White House, they're recognized from their previous night's encounter and pulled aside. After Arlene's near supersonic dog whistle draws the first dog, Checkers, to them, President Richard "Dick" Nixon (DAN HEDAYA) realizes they need to find out what the girls know, and thus assigns them to be the official White House dog walkers.

Although no one outside the Oval Office believes their story, the two girls soon get unlimited access throughout the White House and to the President himself, a man for whom Arlene quickly develops a teenage crush. The girls are particularly welcomed for their "Hello Dolly" cookies that they've unknowingly made with pot hidden in the walnut jar by Arlene's brother, Larry (DEVON GUMMERSALL), who's just received his draft notice.

Having the president's ear, the girls start giving him their advice about politics and other world affairs and soon begin influencing his behavior and decisions about Vietnam and other important events of the day.

Yet, when they accidently stumble upon a tape recording that shows the President isn't such a nice guy -- and more importantly is potty-mouthed and mean to his dog -- the girls decide to do something about it.

Calling two Washington Post writers they know the President despises, Bob Woodward (WILL FERRELL) and Carl Bernstein (BRUCE McCULLOCH), the girls set into motion a series of events that soon involves Bob Haldeman (DAVE FOLEY), John Dean (JIM BREUER), Henry Kissinger (SAUL RUBINEK) and the president's secretary, Rose Mary Woods (ANA GASTEYER).

From that point on, and as the White House starts following the girls and involving their parents, including Arlene's mom, Helen (TERI GARR), the girls do what they can to get Dick off their backs and go back to being normal teens.

If they're fans of Dunst ("Drop Dead Gorgeous") or Williams (TV's "Dawson's Creek"), they probably will although the seemingly ancient political theme may seem too much like a history lesson for the target audience.
For sex-related humor, drug content and language.
  • KIRSTEN DUNST plays a bubbly and outgoing teen who briefly cusses, doesn't realize she's making pot-laced cookies and inadvertently gets involved with, and then affects the outcome of, the Watergate scandal.
  • MICHELLE WILLIAMS plays her more reserved best friend who does the same, although she's more of a geek and develops a schoolgirl crush on the President.
  • DAN HEDAYA plays the Commander-in-Chief, an obviously corrupt politician who cusses, drinks some, and is mean to his dog.
  • WILL FERRELL and BRUCE McCULLOCH play competitive Washington Post reporters Woodward and Bernstein who nearly pee in their pants from the excitement of getting the scoop on the scandal.
  • DAVE FOLEY plays Bob Haldeman, a White House tough guy.
  • DEVON GUMMERSALL plays Betsy's brother who's into drugs (it's his pot that ends up in their cookies) and gets into trouble for attending a porno movie.


    OUR TAKE: 7 out of 10
    In something akin to "Clueless" meets "All the President's Men" as filtered through the unintentional historical intervention/mishaps of "Forrest Gump," writer/director Andrew Fleming and cowriter Sheryl Longin deliver a constantly amusing sendup of the whole Watergate scandal that rocked the White House and the country during the early 1970s.

    While never outrageously hilarious and occasionally feeling a bit like a "Saturday Night Live" skit that's gone on just a tad too long, the film does offer some funny "what if" scenarios and plenty of humorous performances from its talented and easy to like cast.

    Just as in that Tom Hanks Oscar-winning film where a scene features Forrest unknowingly blowing the whistle on Watergate intruders, this picture is filled with plenty of similar moments that should amuse Watergate afficionados, history buffs and anyone in general who likes to see their elected officials raked over the coals, but in a lighthearted fashion.

    However, much of the film will play over the heads of its target audience -- teenagers born during the Reagan era and distanced far enough from the early '70s that this might as well be about McCarthyism from the '50s -- and will play better to adults, many of whom will undoubtably skip the picture due to it looking like a teen flick.

    Fortunately, it caters to both audiences and can be appreciated on two levels. Superficially, it has the trappings of any goofy comedy -- such as "Clueless" or "Romy and Michele's High School Reunion" -- where some ditsy and capricious young women live their lives by their own unique set of rules. As such, many teens who could care less about politics will enjoy the film for that.

    However, where the film really shines is with its retro look at "Tricky Dick," Watergate and the early '70s era. While the late 1970s and the whole disco period have been countlessly portrayed in movies, it's not often that the years preceding that time get as much attention -- at least not recently.

    Not only does this film remind audiences of the music before disco -- often to quite humorous extremes as we're treated to some fun and funky songs long since buried in our memories -- but the clothes -- recreated by costume designer Deborah Everton ("Star Trek: First Contact," "The Abyss") -- hairstyles and general attitude of the time don't escape unscathed either.

    Even so, today's kids won't appreciate the sight of Nixon watching "Love American Style" or having two characters commenting on the intermingling of their respective peanut butter and chocolate ("You got your peanut butter on my chocolate -- You got your chocolate in my peanut butter"), and probably have little if any idea who Bobby Sherman is/was for that matter. Nevertheless, those in their mid-thirties and older will enjoy such trips down this memory lane.

    Such recollections aside, the filmmakers focus most of their energies on the Watergate scandal and the fall of Nixon, and it's here that they mightily succeed. While the easy target is Nixon himself, director Andrew Fleming ("The Craft," "Threesome") and first-time screenwriter Sheryl Longin have made sure to include the President's inner circle as well as "famed" Washington Post reporters Woodward and Bernstein in their overall satire.

    Of course, the better one's knowledge and understanding of the Watergate particulars, the more likely they'll get and appreciate all of the jokes, but even those with just a passing interest in the scandal will certainly find a great deal to appreciate. From the origin of the "Deep Throat" informant to the explanation of the missing eighteen and a half minutes on one of Nixon's Oval Office tapes, the film offers plenty of counter -- and often very funny -- versions of the real historical events.

    Beyond the cleverly satirical and otherwise generally amusing material, what makes the film really work it its lively and likeable cast. As the two ditsy teens, both Kirsten Dunst ("Drop Dead Gorgeous," "Interview With the Vampire") and Michelle Williams (TV's "Dawson's Creek," "Halloween: H20") deliver dead-on performances that are not only funny, but also quickly endear their characters to the audience.

    While obviously not going for the serious thespian recreation of "Tricky Dick" that Anthony Hopkins gave in "Nixon," Dan Hedaya ("Clueless," "The First Wives Club") pulls off a quite hilarious impersonation of the President. While avoiding the expected and easy caricature, Hedaya's take is amusing throughout, and the scenes where his character interacts with the girls are nicely done and highly enjoyable.

    The scene stealers, however, are Will Ferrell (TV's "Saturday Night Live," the two "Austin Powers" films) and Bruce McCulloch ("Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy") as Washington Post reporters Woodward and Bernstein. Just a "little" different from the portrayal of these two by Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman in "All the President's Men," Ferrell and McCulloch turn the two into ultra competitive, jealous and bickering "partners" who ultimately confess that they won't reveal the identity of "Deep Throat," simply because it's too embarrassing.

    Other supporting performances from the likes of Dave Foley (TV's "NewsRadio," "A Bug's Life") as Chief of Staff Bob Haldeman and Saul Rubinek ("I Love Trouble" and that other "Nixon" film) as Henry Kissinger are similarly entertaining.

    Although the film occasionally feels a bit long despite its short ninety-some minute runtime, and the nagging thought that it might run out of steam and material -- like many films that should have been done as short skits often do -- is always in the back of one's mind, the sharp writing and good performances from all involved prevent the proceedings from losing too much momentum toward the end. Clearly a clever spin on the infamous scandal, we give the constantly amusing and enjoyable "Dick" a 7 out of 10.

    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this PG-13 rated comedy. Drug use is present in the form of a running gag about the girls unknowingly making pot-laced cookies that cause those to eat them to be high. Other drug references are present and some drinking occurs.

    Profanity is heavy due to at least 1 use of the "f" word, along with other words and phrases, and the use of the name "Dick" occurs several times as a double-entendre. A few other sexual references are made (including some about a porno film named for oral sex) and the two teenage characters are seen at the end of the film somewhat suggestively licking normal-shaped suckers with the word "Dick" on them.

    While played entirely for laughs, those involved with the Watergate conspiracy obviously have both. Beyond all of that, the rest of the film is pretty much void of any major objectionable content. Nonetheless, should you still be concerned about its appropriateness for anyone in your home, we encourage you to take a closer look at the listed content.

    For those concerned with repetitively flashing bright lights, a brief moment of that occurs during the closing credits.

  • The girls make "Hello Dolly" cookies from several ingredients, including walnuts surrounded by Larry's marijuana leaves (Betsy says that her brother said they were from the walnut tree).
  • We see Larry mixing whiskey and what looks like pills in a mortar as he tells the girls that the "old drugs" aren't working and that they need to create new ones.
  • Betsy tells Larry that their parents ate the pot-spiked cookies (she's not aware of the drugs in them), started giggling and ran upstairs and "I think they're having sex now."
  • We then see Nixon eating some of these cookies and commenting that they're "yummy" and are making him feel lightheaded.
  • Betsy's mom pours champagne for the family to celebrate Larry not having to go to Vietnam.
  • After Betsy informs her family that she was responsible for getting the U.S. out of Vietnam, Larry says "Whatever she's on, I didn't give it to her."
  • As the girls arrive at the White House gates, a guard eagerly asks if they have the Hello Dolly cookies (still unknowingly made from pot) and when they show them, the other guards excitedly gather around them.
  • Nixon gives some of those pot-laced cookies (still with the "secret" ingredient) to Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, and soon he, Kissinger and others are joyously singing the song, "Hello, Dolly."
  • We see Nixon having a late-night drink.
  • After they come home to realize that their house has apparently been burglarized, Larry exclaims, "My stash!" and Mrs. Jobs then states that she needs a drink.
  • A young man takes a long hit from a beer bong while lying on the floor.
  • We see Nixon holding a drink with an open bottle in front of him and he appears somewhat intoxicated.
  • After the girls convince Larry that Nixon ate the pot-laced cookies, he says "Maybe that's why he's so paranoid" (as he takes a whiff from the walnut/pot container).
  • At the end of the movie, an onscreen title says that Larry helped invent Quaaludes that made him a lot of money.
  • The girls laugh at hearing a security guard farting (we hear it as well).
  • From a distance we see Checkers (the dog) doing his business on the lawn with Betsy saying "Would you look at all that sh*t."
  • We hear a young man belch.
  • Everything that's presented in the movie is done in a comical/satirical fashion.
  • Obviously Nixon and everyone else involved with the Watergate break-in have both, especially when they start trailing the girls and breaking into their homes, etc...
  • Two adult men spy on Betsy and Arlene with binoculars (while involved with the Watergate break-in), with one of them saying, "I'll take the one doing cartwheels."
  • Although sworn to secrecy, Betsy and Arlene tell everyone about them being "secret youth advisors" for the White House (although no one believes them).
  • The girls hear Nixon on a tape stating that the "God damn Jews are out to get me" as well as being mean to his dog.
  • Arlene snoops around Haldeman's home looking for evidence.
  • Haldeman calls the girls "bitches."
  • Some may see the girls cutting up an American flag and sewing it into hot pants and halter tops for them to wear as being disrespectful.
  • Although it's entirely played for laughs, it's possible some viewers might find a scene where the girls go running down a dark alley screaming from a van that's following them as somewhat suspenseful.
  • Handguns: Worn by guards in the White House.
  • Rifles: Held by the color guard as the President leaves.
  • Phrases: "Piece of sh*t," "The sh*t's really hitting the fan," "Lying sack of sh*t," "You suck, Dick" (written on a message addressed to the President), "Deep Throat," "Screw up," "Crappy," "Freak," "Snotnosed," "Bastards," "Bitches," "Up yours, man," "Jerk," "Schmuck," "Pain in the ass," "Shut up" and "Lame brain."
  • The girls put tape over a door latch so that it won't lock and they can then get back inside.
  • Some kids on a school bus give the girls "the finger" (for being late to board and thus ruining the trip to McDonald's).
  • Arlene burns photos of Nixon/other papers in a trash can in her room.
  • Haldeman calls the girls "bitches" and they in turn give him the "kiss my ass" gesture (kissing their fingers that they then take down to their rear ends).
  • The girls cut up an American flag and sew it into hot pants and halter tops that they later wear.
  • Nixon gives the girls "the finger."
  • None.
  • The film features a mild amount of comically suspenseful music in several scenes.
  • None.
  • At least 1 "f" word, 7 "s" words, several double-entendre uses of "Dick," 5 asses, 4 hells, 1 crap, and 7 uses of "Oh my God," 5 of "Jesus," 4 of "G-damn," 2 each of "Oh Jesus" and "Swear to God" and 1 use of "My God" as exclamations.
  • Two adult men spy on Betsy and Arlene with binoculars (while involved with the Watergate break-in), with one of them saying, "I'll take the one doing cartwheels."
  • Betsy tells Larry that their parents ate some pot-spiked cookies (she's not aware of the drugs in them), started giggling and ran upstairs and "I think they're having sex now."
  • A few jokes are made about the name "Dick" in unintended double entendres (such as one of the girls shouting "I love Dick" at a roller rink and everyone hears this and laughs at what she's said, and another where Betsy shouts "You can't let Dick run your life" as loud music suddenly stops).
  • Betsy's dad comes home with Larry and is mad at him for having gone off to a porno movie ("Deep Throat"). Later, when Arlene says that she doesn't under the title of that movie, Betsy whispers to her that it means (what sounded like) "The woman puts it in her mouth" and the two then scream and giggle over that.
  • The girls then use the name "Deep Throat" as their cover to the newspaper reporters. Later, as Woodward and Bernstein talk to their editor, he refers to the cover as "Hand job" but they correct him.
  • Betsy walks up to a young man she believes to be Haldeman's son and asks if he wants to make out (he quickly says "sure") so that Arlene can snoop around inside the house. Inside the bedroom, we briefly see a painting/drawing of an embraced, seated couple showing the woman's back and the man's legs around her on the floor. Arlene then pushes this guy to the bed, briefly kisses him and then comically rakes her hair across his face. We then briefly see the top of the backside of his underwear as he pulls down his pants after being accidently stabbed by a pin.
  • The girls cut up an American flag and sew it into hot pants and halter/bikini tops that they later wear (that reveal bare midriffs and some cleavage).
  • The girls hold up a sign for Nixon that reads, "You suck, Dick. Love, Deep Throat."
  • During the end credits the girls somewhat suggestively lick normal-shaped suckers that have the word "Dick" on them.
  • None.
  • There's some brief talk of Arlene's father dying in a car crash before she was born (and thus she never knew him), although Betsy thinks that was just a convenient excuse.
  • The real Watergate scandal and how this movie spoofs those real events.
  • What was in the cookies the girls made and why everyone loved them so much (they had pot in them).
  • Not paying attention, Arlene plows right into a pillar while roller skating.
  • We see a few broken items in the Jobs home (after White House people have broken in).

  • Reviewed July 29, 1999 / Posted August 4, 1999

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