Director: Andrew Fleming
Screenplay: Andrew Fleming & Sheryl Longin
Cast: Kirsten Dunst, Michelle Williams, Dan Hedaya
NY Distribution Status: now playing (Columbia)

Grade: B-

Wish I had some kind of original, inventive take on this mildly funny Watergate spoof, but it's no coincidence that every review I've read or skimmed thus far has included the words "Romy" and "Gump." As it happens, Dick is superior to both of its sources, multiple Oscars notwithstanding: Dunst and Williams, whose work I'd never liked and seen before, respectively, are more appealing than Sorvino and Kudrow were, if only because it's easier to laugh at 15-year-old bubbleheads than adult ones; the accidental-history gags, meanwhile, work better as the focus of the comedy rather than as a series of goofy digressions interpolated with Vietnam combat scenes and teary graveside eulogies. In what I assume was a rather quixotic attempt not to completely alienate the much-coveted teen audience that's likely to recognize Williams from "Dawson's Creek," the era-specific jokes (which is to say, the bulk of them) are last-chapter-of-the-U.S.-history-textbook* shallow and nudge-nudge-wink-wink-say-no-more coarse: all the president's men introduce themselves to the girls by both name and title, and when Betsy returns from walking Checkers to find Arlene still dictating a love letter to Nixon on a White House tape recorder, she looks at her watch and announces breathlessly "You've been talking for eighteen-and-a-half minutes!" (Sharp eye for the second hand, kid.) There's also a tendency to rely too heavily on the usual '70s-music suspects (two duplicates from the Reservoir Dogs soundtrack is at least one too many), although an extended Arlene-loves-Dickie montage set to "Lady Marmalade" is borderline wonderful, both because it's expertly crafted and because the juxtaposition of Richard Milhous Nixon and the phrase "gitchy gitchy ya ya ya ya" is impossible to resist. Nothing to get excited about, but diverting enough; ask me about it in five years and I suspect that all I'll remember will be Bruce McCulloch's outrageous, coif-flipping turn as Carl Bernstein. Great wig.

* (um, or do I date myself...?)