Dick is a 1999 American comedy film directed by Andrew Fleming from a script he wrote with Sheryl Longin. It is a comic reimagining of the Watergate scandal which ended the presidency of Richard ("Tricky Dick") Nixon and features several cast members from Saturday Night Live and The Kids in the Hall.
theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Andrew Fleming|
|Produced by||Gale Anne Hurd|
|Written by||Andrew Fleming|
|Music by||John Debney|
|Edited by||Mia Goldman|
|Distributed by||Sony Pictures Releasing|
|Box office||$6.3 million (US)|
Kirsten Dunst and Michelle Williams star as Betsy and Arlene, two warm-hearted but unworldly 15-year-old girls who are best friends, and who, through various arbitrary circumstances, become the legendary "Deep Throat" figure partly responsible for bringing down Nixon's presidency. Dan Hedaya plays Nixon.
Betsy Jobs (Kirsten Dunst) and Arlene Lorenzo (Michelle Williams) are two sweet-natured but somewhat ditzy teenage girls living in Washington D.C. in 1972. Betsy comes from a wealthy Georgetown family, while Arlene lives with her widowed mother in an apartment in the Watergate building. One night, in order to mail a letter to enter a contest to win a date with teen idol singer Bobby Sherman, the two girls sneak out of Arlene's home, at the same time as the Watergate break-in. They sneak through the parking garage by taping the latch of a door, accidentally causing the break-in to be discovered. They are seen by G. Gordon Liddy (Harry Shearer), who they believe to be committing a jewel robbery; they panic and run away. The security guard, startled by the taped door, calls the police, who immediately arrest the burglars.
The next day, while at the White House on a school tour, they accidentally happen across Liddy again. They don't recognize him, but he recognizes them and instantly becomes suspicious. He points them out to H. R. Haldeman (Dave Foley), who interrogates them; their conversation (which reveals that the girls don't actually think about the President much) is interrupted first by a phone call from Haldeman's wife, and second by President Nixon himself (Dan Hedaya), who takes Haldeman aside to complain about the bugging operation being so fouled up.
The girls are naturally awestruck at being in the same room as Nixon – but more awestruck at being able to play with his dog, which gives Nixon an idea. In order to keep their silence, he appoints them his official dog-walkers – which means they must be admitted repeatedly to the White House. On these visits they accidentally influence major events such as the Vietnam peace process and the Nixon–Brezhnev accord, by bringing along cookies that they have inadvertently baked marijuana into. (Later, when Betsy's brother, Larry (Devon Gummersall), reveals the cookies' "secret ingredient" and realizes the President ate them, he concludes that this was likely a leading cause of Nixon's paranoia.) They also become familiar with the key figures of Nixon's administration, including the long-suffering, frequently ignored Henry Kissinger (Saul Rubinek), and inadvertently learn the major secrets of the Watergate scandal without realizing what they know.
Arlene, previously infatuated with Bobby Sherman, now falls equally hard for the president. Just after reading an 18 1⁄2-minute message of love into his tape recorder, she plays back another part of the tape, hears his coarse, brutal rantings, and realizes his true nature. When the two girls confront Nixon, he fires and threatens them.
They now reevaluate what they have learned and decide to reveal everything to the "radical muckraking bastards" (Nixon's words) at the Washington Post, Bob Woodward (Will Ferrell) and Carl Bernstein (Bruce McCulloch). So they become informants: two 15-year-old girls are the true identity of the famous Deep Throat (Betsy's brother had just been caught watching the film of the same name). Woodward and Bernstein – portrayed as petty, childish, and incompetent – are naturally skeptical of the two girls. To make matters worse, their only piece of physical evidence, a list of names of those involved from the Committee to Re-Elect the President, is eaten by Betsy's dog.
Nixon's men realize that the girls are a real threat and attempt tactics such as bugging and undercover agents to find out what they know, going so far as to break into Betsy's house and plant an agent as Arlene's mother's boyfriend. Eventually pushed to the limit after being chased by the Watergate "plumbers", the girls decide to take action: sneaking into Haldeman's house, they manage to find and steal a crucial tape recording. They give a transcription of it to Woodward and Bernstein (keeping the tape as a "souvenir") thus ending Nixon's political career. Nixon finds Arlene's message on his tape and erases it, reasoning that he'd be "crucified" if it was perceived that he had an affair with a 15-year-old girl. After the resignation, as Nixon's helicopter flies over Betsy's house, the two girls hold up a sign with the phrase "You suck, Dick", further angering the now ex-president.
- Kirsten Dunst as Betsy Jobs
- Michelle Williams as Arlene Lorenzo
- Dan Hedaya as President Richard "Dick" Nixon
- Bruce McCulloch as Carl Bernstein
- Will Ferrell as Bob Woodward
- Saul Rubinek as Henry Kissinger
- Teri Garr as Helen Lorenzo
- Dave Foley as H. R. Haldeman
- Harry Shearer as G. Gordon Liddy
- Ted McGinley as Roderick
- Karl Pruner as Frank Jobs
- Devon Gummersall as Larry Jobs
- Jim Breuer as John Dean
- G. D. Spradlin as Ben Bradlee
- Ryan Reynolds as Chip
- French Stewart as The Interviewer
- Ana Gasteyer as Rose Mary Woods
Writers Andrew Fleming and Sheryl Longin attempted to write several different scripts with teenage girls as protagonists. The idea of using the Watergate scandal came from a real-life experience Longin had with Nixon when her family stayed at the same hotel as Nixon. As a child, she and a friend pelted Nixon with ice cubes, causing a minor disturbance. Fleming said that he was surprised at the attempts to rehabilitate Nixon's image, and Longin cited the Watergate scandal as a defining political moment for their generation. She said she channeled the resulting anger and cynicism into the script. Several people told the duo that various gags went too far. Fleming, who believed Nixon got off easily, said they fought to keep everything. They approached Ben Bradlee and John Dean to play themselves, but both declined.
TriStar's marketing research indicated teenage girls were the film's biggest demographic, so promotional material focused on Dunst and Williams instead of the political aspects. Dick was released in the US on August 4, 1999. It grossed $2.2 million in its opening weekend, opening at No. 12 in 1522 theaters. It went on to gross $6.3 million in the US.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 71% approval rating based on 73 reviews, with an average score of 6.36/10 and the consensus: "A clever, funny slice of alternate history, Dick farcically re-imagines the Watergate era and largely succeeds, thanks to quirky, winning performances from Michelle Williams, Kirsten Dunst and Will Ferrell". On Metacritic, the film has a score of 65 out of 100 based on reviews from 21 critics.
Leonard Maltin gave the film three stars, calling it a "clever cross of Clueless and All the President’s Men". Todd McCarthy, in his review for Variety, called it an "audacious, imaginative political comedy" that will appeal more to adults than teenagers. Stephen Holden of The New York Times described it as "an uproariously dizzy satire" that was inspired by the Lewinsky scandal. Writing for the Los Angeles Times, Kevin Thomas said the film "is so sharp and funny it should appeal to all ages". Rita Kempley of The Washington Post described it as "more fun than you ever thought you'd have with Richard Nixon". The film's acting received critical commentary. Thomas positively compared Hedaya's performance to Anthony Hopkins in Nixon, and Kempley called Hedaya "no less adept" than Hopkins. Holden wrote that Hedaya's portrayal of Nixon is "the year's funniest film caricature". Thomas called Dunst and Williams "a constant delight".
|2000||Satellite Awards||Best Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical||Dick||Nominated|
|Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, Comedy or Musical||Dan Hedaya||Nominated|
|Young Artist Awards||Best Performance in a Feature Film - Leading Young Actress||Michelle Williams||Nominated|
|YoungStar Award||Best Young Actress/Performance in a Motion Picture Comedy||Kirsten Dunst||Nominated|
|Original Motion Picture Soundtrack:|
|Soundtrack album by |
|Recorded||Ocean Way Recording, Nashville, Tennessee (Track 1 only)|
|Genre||1970s popular music|
|Label||Virgin Records America, Inc.|
All fifteen compositions are Top 40 hit songs from the 1970s, but two weren't recorded until after the Watergate scandal had ended. They are "Lady Marmalade" and "Dancing Queen" which were released three months and two years later respectively. Sixpence None the Richer's cover version of the latter song is the album's opening track and the only one recorded for the movie.
Captain & Tennille's "Love Will Keep Us Together" had been considered for use in the film, but the politically conservative Daryl Dragon and Toni Tennille didn’t appreciate the movie’s irreverence and denied the rights to their cover. Led Zeppelin's "Over the Hills and Far Away" was originally intended to accompany the closing scene, but Fleming eventually realized Carly Simon's "You're So Vain" was a better fit and used it instead.
- Soundtrack album listing
|1.||"Dancing Queen"||Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus, Stig Anderson||Sixpence None the Richer||4:00|
|2.||"ABC"||Berry Gordy, Deke Richards, Alphonzo Mizell and Freddie Perren||The Jackson 5||2:57|
|3.||"Crocodile Rock"||Elton John, Bernie Taupin||Elton John||3:53|
|4.||"Lady Marmalade"||Bob Crewe, Kenny Nolan||Labelle||3:19|
|5.||"Rock On"||David Essex||David Essex||3:24|
|6.||"Hooked on a Feeling"||Mark James||Blue Swede||2:51|
|7.||"Popcorn"||Gershon Kingsley||Hot Butter||2:31|
|8.||"Rock Your Baby"||Harry Wayne Casey, Richard Finch||George McCrae||3:18|
|9.||"Love's Theme"||Barry White||The Love Unlimited Orchestra||3:33|
|10.||"Mr. Big Stuff"||Joseph Broussard, Carrol Washington, Ralph George Williams||Jean Knight||2:28|
|11.||"The Loco-Motion"||Gerry Goffin, Carole King||Grand Funk Railroad||2:45|
|12.||"Come and Get Your Love"||Lolly Vegas||Redbone||3:32|
|13.||"Coconut"||Harry Nilsson||Harry Nilsson||3:46|
|14.||"Brother Louie"||Errol Brown, Tony Wilson||Stories||3:55|
|15.||"You're So Vain"||Carly Simon||Carly Simon||4:17|
- "Dick". American Film Institute. Retrieved October 27, 2016.
- "Dick (1999)". The Numbers. Retrieved October 27, 2016.
- Jacobs, Matthew (August 27, 2014). "9 Things You Really Never Knew About 'Dick'". HuffPost.
- Holden, Stephen (August 4, 1999). "FILM REVIEW; That Gap in the Nixon Tapes? Maybe a Teen-Age Cry of Love". The New York Times. Retrieved December 3, 2016.
- Waxman, Sharon (August 1, 1999). "Generation X's Tricky 'Dick'". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 3, 2016.
- "Dick". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved December 3, 2016.
- "What's Hot". Los Angeles Times. December 2, 1999.
- "Sony Pictures Renames Columbia TriStar". Billboard. November 19, 2004. Retrieved July 29, 2015.
- "1999 film "Dick" with Kirsten Dunst and Michelle Williams on Blu-ray November". HighDefDiscNews. October 6, 2018.
- Blu-ray release
- "Dick (1999)" – via www.rottentomatoes.com.
- "Dick Reviews". Metacritic.
- Maltin, Leonard, Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide. New York: Signet Books, 2009. ISBN 1-101-10660-3. p.356
- McCarthy, Todd (August 2, 1999). "Review: 'Dick – D.C. Follies: Kicky 'Dick' Pic Clicks'". Variety. Retrieved December 3, 2016.
- Thomas, Kevin (August 4, 1999). "Teen Girls Change History in 'Dick's' White House". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 3, 2016.
- Kempley, Ria (August 4, 1999). "Tricky 'Dick': A Bungle of Laughs". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 3, 2016.
- Hettrick, Scott. "See Dick Run On and On About the Watergate Era," Los Angeles Times, Friday, December 10, 1999. Retrieved August 5, 2020
- Jacobs, Matthew. "9 Things You Really Never Knew About Dick," HuffPost, Wednesday, August 27, 2014. Retrieved August 5, 2020
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