September 9, 2019
Dick (1999)
Grade: 48/100

Director: Andrew Fleming
Stars: Kirsten Dunst, Michelle Williams, Dan Hedaya

What it's about. A comedy about the Watergate scandal of 1972 to 1974. Kirsten Dunst and Michelle Williams are energetic but clueless teenage girls. They live in the Watergate apartments, and witness elements of the burglary of the Democratic National Headquarters, next door.

On a school field trip soon after, the girls visit the White House and, because it is a movie, stumble their way into a meeting with President Nixon (Dan Hedaya) and get a job walking Nixon's dog.

The ditzy girls cannot convince friends, family, or teachers that they actually know Nixon and his infamous staff, such as Bob Haldeman (Dave Foley), Gordon Liddy (Harry Shearer), John Dean (Jim Breuer), and Henry Kissinger (Saul Rubinek). Rubinek is the best casting, although Hedaya does an amusing Nixon impression.

The girls enjoy their unlikely vocation until they stumble across one of Nixon's tapes, and learn that he is a foul-mouthed dog hater. Their employment ends in an angry confrontation with Nixon. The latter believes the girls know too much, and he places them under surveillance. The girls plot revenge by stealing an incriminating tape and delivering it to famous Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward (Will Ferrell) and Carl Bernstein (Bruce McCulloch) as their "Deep Throat" source.

How others will see it. Despite a mostly favorable critical reception, Dick was a box office flop. The U.S. gross was only about 6M, less than half its budget. The movie was ignored by most film festivals.

Today at, the film has a fairly low 18K user votes. The user rating of 6.1 out of 10 is also unimpressive. But the movie clearly has a following, since most of the top-rating user reviews are highly positive. Some reviews do pan the film, of course, e.g "simply not funny", "could it possibly have been worse?"

How I felt about it. In 1999, only three people knew who Deep Throat was, and none were named Linda Lovelace or Hal Holbrook. The three were Woodward, Bernstein, and Mark Felt, who revealed his identity in 2005 as Deep Throat.

By 1999, speculation about who was Deep Throat had raged for a quarter century. Dick poses that "he" was actually a pair of clueless teenage girls. The film presumes the viewer has seen All the President's Men (1976), though the Watergate story is from their perspective. Instead of being paragons of reporters, Woodward and Bernstein are depicted as petty and shallow. But then again, it is a comedy.

The film effectively recreates the nostalgia of the 1970s, especially the clothing and hairstyles. But the score makes some mistakes: "Lady Marmalade" is Ford era, and "Dancing Queen" topped the U.S. charts while Carter was President. Also, teen girls were long over Bobby Sherman by the summer of 1972.

The biggest problem the movie has, though, is that the characters of Dunst and Williams change about halfway through the movie. They are scatterbrains until they hear a Nixon tape, then become Machiavellian schemers. They know that their phones are tapped, and that Mom's new boyfriend is a government spy.

Most dubious of all is the ending. How could Dunst and Williams know that Nixon would leave by helicopter and fly right over their apartment? Why would they make such an effort, cutting up a hundred-dollar flag and making dresses from it, just on the chance that he would look down and see them?

The movie does has its moments, though, before Dunst and Williams have tasted the apple from the Tree of Knowledge. The best scene has Nixon, Kissinger, and Soviet President Brezhnev singing "Hello, Dolly!" after eating marijuana-laced cookies. It's preposterous, bu nonetheless entertaining.