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The year is 1972 and like most high school students, Betsy Jobs (Kirsten Dunst) and Arlene Lorenzo (Michelle Williams) just want to have a good time. But when, during a class field trip to the White House, they cluelessly wander into a behind closed doors, top-secret shredding session, it's time to both wag the dog, and walk it. Seeking to uncover just how much the witless duo discovered, the Commander In Chief, appoints them "Official White House Dog Walkers," and it isn't long before the girls go from taking out Checkers, to taking out Tricky Dick, in this fun raising comedy of historic distortions.
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"All the President's Men" is not it. "Dick" definitely is.
"All the President's Men" is dull and opaque and gets lost in minutiae--it's hard to follow even for me, and I know oceans about Watergate--so it is completely lost on the students. Worse still, it's undramatic. It has a plodding pace and dull characters.
"Dick" is the opposite. It was a stroke of genius to treat Watergate as a comedy, and better yet, a teen comedy.
It was another stroke of genius to make the clueless teen heroines "Deep Throat"--the mysterious informant who kept feeding Woodward and Bernstein an unending supply of truth about Nixon's and all his advisers' involvement. ("Dick" was made in 1999; the actual identity of Deep Throat was not revealed till 2005.)
And it was perhaps the crowning stroke of genius to provide Nixon with marijuana cookies as the spark behind several of his better policies--ending the Vietnam war, the nuclear weapons treaty with Brezhnev, etc.
(Side note. Grace Slick, in her autobiography, tells how Julie, Nixon's daughter, invited Slick to the White House for some function, because Julie and Slick had gone to the same college. Slick decided to go, and slip Tricky Dick some LSD. This was a brilliant plan, but fortunately did not succeed. The thought of Dick's head on acid and his finger on the Bomb is not a pretty one.)
"Dick" has wonderful touches. Hedaya is perfect as Nixon--looks, voice, evil, paranoia. It is lovely that he can't remember his daughters' names. The actors playing Haldeman, Kissinger, Dean, et al. are also good. The episodes involving the lost 18 minutes of tape are priceless.
The movie is dumb but extremely likable. It gets the songs, the clothes, the slogans, the silliness and fun of the early 70s just right. Plus, it's actually quite educational.
Don't be surprised if you 'howl' thru this movie. By the last scene I fell out of my seat.