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Columbia TriStar Home Video

Starring Starring Kirsten Dunst, Michelle Williams, and Dan Hedaya

Written by Written by Andrew Fleming and Sheryl Longin
Directed by Andrew Fleming

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Just when it seemed Oliver Stone had a monopoly on revisionist U.S. history in the movies, comes this refreshing, if a bit wayward, comic reinvention of the Watergate scandal.

Kirsten Dunst and Michelle Williams star as Betsy and Arlene, a tandem of twitty teens whose lives consist of little more than incessant giggling and mooning over pop icons. Arlene has it bad for Bobby Sherman, and when the two girls rush to drop an obsessive fan letter in the post they stumble across some shady characters behaving suspiciously in Arlene's apartment building, the Watergate — which is also the home of the headquarters for the National Democratic Committee.

This incident is brushed off as nothing more than a creep-out until a school field trip to the White House brings our high-strung heroines face-to-face with Watergate burglar-in-chief G. Gordon Liddy (Harry Shearer). Anxious to divert the girls from developing suspicions, President Nixon (Dan Hedaya) appoints them as official White House dog-walkers (and top-secret youth counsel). Although briefly effective, this tactic eventually exposes the cute airheads to the dark underbelly of the Nixon White House, and the rest, as they say, is revisionist history.

While Dick is full of flat one-liners and misfiring silliness, co-writer-director Andrew Fleming does an excellent job of lampooning all of the real characters involved in the scandal. Hedaya is a treat as Nixon, rambling paranoiaclly about Checkers' dislike for his master, and when Arlene begins indulging romantic daydreams about the president, it's Nixon like he's never been portrayed before. Fleming also plays a funny twist on reporters Bob Woodward (Will Ferrell) and Carl Bernstein (Bruce McCulloch), fitfully unscrewing their hard-nosed All the President's Men personas into a juvenile, bickering Abbot and Costello routine.

As for the dim-witted dynamos Betsy and Arlene, their initially grating stereotypes eventually give way to a fine display of comedic acting by Dunst. Williams is adequate, but does little to puncture her status as TV's most overrated, non-descript Lolita. Also with Dave Foley as Bob Haldeman and Saul Rubinek as Henry Kissinger.

Dick offers some good laughs for those familiar with the events in question, and the film is a nice relief from the ponderous attitude with which this era of American history is commonly approached. Barbara Dunphy's bright production design is well displayed in this solid 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer (also with pan-and-scan). Includes both DD 5.1 and 2.0 Dolby Surround audio, a commentary by Fleming and co-writer Sheryl Longin, bloopers, outtakes, a making-of featurette, trailers, and an isolated audio track of John Debney's unimpressive score. Keep case.

— Gregory P. Dorr

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