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  watergate is your friend
Kirsten Dunst, Michelle Williams and Dan Hedaya debate the merits of a secret war in Cambodia.

1999, Columbia Pictures
All Rights Reserved

With a suggestive title and a subplot about a character nicknamed "Deep Throat" you might categorize "Dick" (Imdb listing) as another lowbrow comedy. Well try again Category Boy because this is a smart political satire that uses lowbrow references sparingly.

Set in Washington, D.C. in 1974, "Dick" tells the story of two teenaged girls as they innocently involve themselves in the Watergate scandal. Betsy (Kirsten Dunst) and Arlene (Michelle Williams) skip through a sea of recorded conversations and presidential lies with a charm that would make Forrest Gump and Chauncy Gardner proud.

A series of events lands Betsy and Arlene in the White House, where Nixon advisers quickly discover that the girls can link the Watergate burglary to the executive branch (damn that G. Gordon Liddy!). Sensing trouble, President Nixon determines that the best way to keep the girls honest is to keep them close, so he appoints them Official White House Dog Walkers.

While fulfilling their dog-walking duties, the girls ingratiate themselves throughout the West Wing. Their cheerful influence and ample supply of weed-enhanced cookies are inadvertently responsible for the end of the Vietnam War and the signing of a U.S.-U.S.S.R. peace treaty.

But things turn sour when Betsy and Arlene discover Nixon's secret taping system. Horrified after hearing Nixon's private conversations (and his "potty mouth"), the girls take action by contacting Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. Assuming the name "Deep Throat," the girls give the reporters damaging evidence that eventually brings down the entire Nixon administration. To this day, Woodward and Bernstein refuse to divulge Deep Throat's identity because it's just too embarrassing.

"Dick's" plot is revisionist history with a comic bent, but it works because it appeals to a wide audience. History buffs will be amused by comic portrayals of notoriously unfunny politicians and regular moviegoers will find humor in the gaudy clothes and wild antics of the teen protagonists.

Additionally, those who develop uncontrollable shaking fits upon encountering giggling teen girls will be able to successfully watch this movie without injury. Dunst and Williams go over the top with their teen exaggeration (giggling, skipping and eye rolls are prevalent) but amidst this adolescent hoopla they actually make their characters likeable. This is a credit to both young stars -- lesser actors would have destroyed this movie.

Turning to lowbrow gimmicks would have also been this film's downfall, but the crew took a different road and the result is a genuinely clever creation. If you want lowbrow, feel free to snicker when you buy your ticket for "Dick."

Filmfodder Grade: A

Note: This review originally appeared at It's reprinted here for archival purposes.

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