Old Lady Movie Night Old Lady Movie Night: "Dick" Anne T. Donahue

HEY EVERYONE HOW ARE YOU. I’m shouting because it’s currently thunderstorming where I live, and I’m trying to make light of my paralyzing fear by making a joke about how loud it is. Ha! Get it, you guys? Everyone? Anyone? Bueller? Anyway.

Last week we watched Star Wars and I think I can speak for everyone when I say that okay, fine, it’s no Sound Of Music, but YOLO, right? Isn’t that what the phrase is about? I’m not sure, but I bet Drake would’ve taken a chance and got his Star Wars on too, despite it not featuring Julie Andrews or Captain Von Trapp. (And yes, I’ll get to Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi ONE DAY, but I think we all just really wanted to laugh again first.)

This week, though, we ARE going to laugh. We are going to laugh and we are going to quote along, and we are going to watch a movie that I feel like a lot of people didn’t seem to watch when I became obsessed with it at age 14. Remember my best friend Ashley I had and still have? The Romy to my Michele? She was also the Michele Williams to my Kirsten Dunst. We watched Dick like it was The Matrix (a movie we literally watched every day because of our shared obsession with Keanu Reeves), and we quoted it even more. So join me. Become a part of our inner circle. Reflect on the year where nearly every note I passed Ashley ended with, “You smell like cabbage!”

The unmaking of a president indeed.

1. First off, LOL for real

In the OPENING SCENE we have French Stewart (I miss you – come back), Will Ferrell and Bruce McCulloch (of Kids In The Hall - one of the greatest shows ever made, and one I recommend to you approximately one million times over) discussing Nixon, Deep Throat and the greatest mystery American politics has ever known. ALL OF THE AWARDS, guys and dolls. But more importantly, I just had to interrupt this wonderful scene to turn off the subtitles and to close the window because we’ve got a gale force wind situation blowing sheets of rain into my bedroom.

Dick!

2. Betsey and Arlene are actually all of us

I know most of us watching this were all, “Oh these girls are SO STUPID for not entering the ‘Win a date with Bobby Sherman’ contest until the actual deadline” but I will say that 100% of us have been exactly this stupid and when I say “stupid” I mean “NOT stupid” because maybe they’re just taking the guidelines super literally. Full disclosure: I have done that. I can promise you that I have done that. I can also promise that when it came to entering some sort of weird contest for that Disney magazine that used to exist, I did not enter the contest until the day it closed. (Which, if you recall, meant I had to MAIL the entry because the internet didn’t exist.)

Also, they’re happy. (Not in this photo, but they are.) And so what? Own that happiness, ladies! It’s 1972! RELISH IN THE ERA BEFORE FULL POLITICAL TURMOIL. (If we choose to ignore the 1960s – which we WILL.)

3. Okay, but maybe Ashley and I didn’t do ourselves any favours by impersonating Betsey and Arlene in front of people who hadn’t seen the movie

Because in all fairness, if you haven’t seen the movie, and you saw both of us doing our impressions of the cartwheeling, laughing, high voice-speaking duo of Betsey and Arlene, you probably would have thought we were out of our freaking minds. Especially when we greeted each other in the hallway by saying, “He looks like he’s wearing blush *laughter*…”

WHATEVER. NO REGRETS. #YOLO.

4. I actually had no idea what was happening in Dick until at least ten years ago

You know, when I began paying attention in class and didn’t think it was just a movie stocked with amazingly wonderful talented cast members. I mean, yes, I understood that it was about Watergate, but only now – and a few years ago (as in a decade) – has the realization been made that it would have been AMAZING if Deep Throat really was two teenage girls? I WISH. I really and truly wish. But preferably, Michelle Williams and Kirsten Dunst because those are the only two teenage girls I could see bringing down Nixon (because I have watched it unfold on film so many times).

5. DAN HEDAYA FOR NIXON FOREVER

We can all agree right now that Frank Langella did an amazing job of playing Richard Nixon in Frost/Nixon. But perhaps more accurately, we can REALLY agree that Dan Hedaya is exactly the person who should be playing Richard Nixon from now until forevermore. And we’ll get to Arlene’s inevitable crush on this wonderful man in a minute, DON’T YOU WORRY.

6. Imagine being the Official White House dog walkers

DO THESE PEOPLE EXIST? I mean, Barack Obama has a dog. And I’m sure he has dog walkers. If you are reading this, and you are an Official White House Dog Walker, please respond and let me know because I would like to know what it’s like and whether you are in any way like Betsey and/or Arlene. (And if you’re not, don’t tell me because I want to believe these ladies are real.) (But seriously, I want to know what it’s like.)

7. Now IMAGINE missing the field trip lunch to McDonalds

In all fairness, we can defend the reactions of Betsey and Arlene’s deprived classmates to the ground. Because when you’re psyched for some fast food cuisine, the last words you want to hear is: “a cold lunch in the cafeteria.” Gross. Immediately, I thought of the sandwiches I would have for lunch in elementary school and how bummed out I was when they were “healthy” and not “leftover pizza” and/or “Lunchables.” Sorry, B & A, but you definitely lose my support in this move. (But only temporarily.)

8. I had a teacher exactly like their terrible/mean teacher

Truly. I did. I’m sure she didn’t MEAN to be, so, well mean, but here are some examples of the way she taught our class:

- Every time the sky darkened, she said there was going to be a tornado and then made us do tornado drills in the hall

- She told us there was going to be a global pandemic and that our parents were going to get it, and die (and when I started to cry, she yelled at my friend for trying to calm me down)

Her: “No. Don’t touch her. She needs to learn.”

- My friend brought a Wiccan book to school, and she lectured us all on “Devil Worshipping” for an entire afternoon (though in her defence, I may have ratted out my friend who brought the book because that was just the way I was leave me alone, guys, I thought I could be Baby Spice).

- Other stuff, I’m sure, but the movie’s continuing to make me laugh, so I’ve forgotten about grade five for the time being

We were in grade five. (And seven. I had her twice.)

9. I completely missed all the drug references in this movie

I really, really had no idea. I knew that the “walnut leaves” were obviously pot, but other than that… her brother’s mixing something? Something that I also don’t know about? Either way, RISQUE. And no wonder my parents would always come into the living room and ask me, “WHAT are you watching?” (The answer: “Political satire! Dick, Mom and Dad!”)

10. But REALLY imagine how terrible it would be if nobody believed you were the Secret Youth Advisors

This type of thing has “would happen to Anne Donahue written all over it.” JUST like the time I played You Don’t Know Jack in 1996 and it had a feature where it “called” a player somewhere and they were put on the spot to answer a trivia question, and everyone was like, “Your computer did NOT call somebody.” (And they were right – it didn’t – they were all pre-recorded.) BUT STILL. NOBODY BELIEVED ME, AND I THOUGHT I WAS INSANE*.

*Or privy to a special gift from the universe or the computer game gods that be.

11. Arlene’s crush on Dan Hedaya can be understood

It can be. I can understand it so much because my celebrity crush list has included and will not be limited to everyone from Jeremy Irons to Gary Oldman to Gary Sinese. (Garys! Am I right, everyone?) The man can act! Dan Hedaya is one hell of an actor. And his interpretation of Nixon is everything Bette Midler probably fell in love with in The First Wives Club. (In the beginning. Before we found out that he was the worst.) (Or wait – didn’t he START by being the worst in the beginning? I MEAN IN THE BEGINNING OF THEIR RELATIONSHIP, EVERYONE. Man, why is everyone yelling?!)

12. HELLO DOLLY!

Here is another way that Ashley and I chose to amuse ourselves in the hallways of our high school, alone at lunch: doing an impression of the Russian president singing, “Hello Dolly!” in a perfect male Russian singing voice. (Not even close.) (I still sing it sometimes.)

13. “I don’t think the President of the United States should be recording conversations like that.”

AMEN, Betsey. Leave it to you to put it all on the line! But poor Arlene. Poor Arlene with her broken heart and her pink dress (that I would actually really like) and her fitful run through the White House park and into the Oval Office the next day for an important meeting with the President, where they realize he has had them “checked out” (!!!) and doesn’t even remember that Checkers the Dog EXISTS. You’ve crossed a line, Richard Nixon. It is too late for apologies! (Later, we find out this is what fuelled Michelle William’s emotional turn in Blue Valentine.)

14. But SERIOUSLY, this is the type of dynamic all best friendships should have and usually do

At least when you’re a teenager, am I right? Ashley and I needed NO OTHER FRIENDS because we were just so excited to be best friends with each other. And even now! There’s a few best friends I think we all have that you all of a sudden morph into Romy, Michele, Betsey and/or Alrene. The other day, my friend Steph and I even said to each other, “I mean, just look at us. Look at our lifestyle.” (As we were driving from garage sale to garage sale on a Saturday morning, and we were not being sarcastic.)

15. Enter: Woodward and Bernstein

FERRELL AND MCCULLOCH AS PROFESSIONAL RIVALS. I’m sorry, every other movie in the world, you don’t have this, so you will always fall short of this cinematic wonder. Why has this never happened before? Or since? I will personally finance any film that Will Ferrell and Bruce McCulloch choose to co-star in again (I have $2 until payday!), BUT ONLY if they act exactly like their versions of Woodward and Bernstein, and only if I get to have a walk-on role.

16. They really did peg this movie as something much less smart than it actually is

I remember when the trailer for Dick came out (I was 46 at the time), and how stupid I thought the movie looked. And you know what? The trailer does a REALLY GREAT job of making it seem like the worst movie ever made. They really took all the quotes out of context, and then they strung them together to make what seems like a terrible teenage coming-of-age comedy. And it kind of is, but even more accurately, it is not that at all. In fact, I will argue that it’s even better NOW than it was in 1999 because LOOK AT THIS CAST. We’ve got comedy veterans, the new generation (Ryan Reynolds in the hiz-ouse!) and then we have our old friends Michelle Williams and Kirsten Dunst who we always need to remember are very, very good at being hilarious. I’m sorry, but you failed, Dick marketing team. This movie is gold, and you should have pegged it as such. DAMN IT.

17. BUT in another serious twist, Betsey and Arlene are actually super smart

Here is something I’m going to admit to you, full disclosure: I PROBABLY wouldn’t know if my phone was being tapped, BUT THEY DO. Also, Betsey notices that the van is following them, Arlene notices that her mom wouldn’t normally date Mr. Sears model, AND they know enough to lie about “We’re being buuuuggggeeddd by the White House” being a Top 40 song. Hands up if you’d crack under the pressure and flee the country as opposed to going to Ferrell and McCulloch! (ME!)

“He’s trying to drive me insane!” INDEED, ARLENE. You are being reasonable.

18. “Do you wanna make out?”

There is a very small part of me that likes to think that walking up to Ryan Reynolds and asking him this would be how to actually make out with him. BUT ONLY if you pretend you knew him from the homecoming dance and he went along with it. (So basically, don’t actually try this if you meet Ryan Reynolds.) (Or DO, and see how it goes and then report back.)

19. Also, shout-out to Dave Foley

Another Kids In The Hall alum UP AND AT THEM. I did not give credit where credit is/was due, but he does a BRILLIANT job being both terrifying, hilarious and a man who would most definitely sport a brush cut in 1972. YOU DID IT, DAVE FOLEY. You earned praise, from me, a 26-year-old Canadian currently sitting in bed watching Dick and writing about it and planning to finish the fourth season of Kids In The Hall later. PAT YOURSELF ON THE BACK BECAUSE THIS IS SUCCESS.

20. I’m sorry I’m not making political commentary

I’m at the point of the film where Watergate scandal gets revealed in full, and I can’t help but feel like I’ve deprived you guys of a good old-fashioned history lesson. But that’s not why you guys came here. That’s not why I came here! If you don’t know what happened with Watergate, then it’s time for you to learn about what happened with Watergate. I don’t teach history for a reason! (Also because I didn’t finish university, and I don’t think I’d make a very good teacher because I would use The West Wing as the basis of every class I taught. Every class. Even gym.)

Bet these guys would’ve loved my history class.

21. “They’ll never lie to us again!”

“LIAR!” – Elle Woods, throwing chocolates at the television screen (Legally Blonde? Get it guys? CUZ THESE GUYS ARE BLONDE TOO!!!111oneone!) #LOL #HelpMe

22. IS it against the law to cut up the flag?

Betsey asks this of Arlene, and I award her at least ten points because this is a phenomenal question. IS IT illegal? IS IT? I’m not sure what the laws are here in Canada, but I feel like I can almost 100% guarantee that at the very least it would be looked down upon. I have not tried to cut up a flag to make matching outfits, but if I did . . . well, no. I wouldn’t. Because once I tried to make a dress using scrap pieces of denim, and it turned into a tragic free-for-all. Let’s never speak of it again, or of the outfits I tried to make my Beanie Babies (last week).

23. Cue: YOU’RE SO VAIN

And NOT the version sung by Kate Hudson and Matthew McC, thank you very much. We’re talking Carly Simon up in here, and we are talking about it LOUD.

24. AND THEN IT ENDS WITH ROLLER SKATING

Alright, I understand that I kind of turned this post into a diary all about me, but a) let me just have this as a human being and b) I’m obviously having an emotional experience up in here. The only difference between Betsey and Arlene and me is that I was not a teenager in the 1970s and that I did not uncover Watergate – but I DID have roller skates that I used until I realized how painfully uncool I was compared to all my friends with Roller Blades (WHO we might argue were the REAL painfully uncool because roller skates rule). (Reality: we were all equally uncool.) BUT STILL.

Also, this film ends with Sixpence None The Richer covering “Dancing Queen” so you tell ME if Dick is actually the political thriller of our time. (Step aside, Blade Runner – once and for all!)

25. Should we watch Frost/Nixon next week?

Kidding! Unless you are not kidding and you answer yes, because I would love to. (I saw it twice in theatres, and I’ll see it again – many times – because I actually own it.) History is the only class I tried to do well in, you guys. You can tell from my movie collection that includes such historically accurate titles like Office Space and Romeo + Juliet.

Next on the docket: Ocean’s 11! An accurate look on the way Las Vegas works. (Kidding, you guys. OR AM I?)

I am.

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  1. We’re the same age and I loved this movie when I was 14 too! I also had my dad come in when I was watching it and I actually had to tell him the title- hello teenage awkwardness. I even did a paper on Watergate in high school because of this movie. Michelle Williams and Kirsten Dunst really need to go back to comedy.

  2. I love it when Besty tells Arlene what deep throat means, thinks about it for a second, then flings open the window to scream at the top of her lungs haha! Me and my best friend growing up loved this movie too! Brings back so many memories

  3. Wow. You really GOT IT.

    Andrew Fleming
    writer/director

    • Thank you! And I’m so glad you think so – needless to say, coming from you, that’s basically the best compliment ever.

      Anne T. Donahue | 6/07/2012 05:06 pm
  4. Never saw it the first time around, but it was on Hulu a few months back. Loved it.

  5. Never seen this, but cannot wait to watch it!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. But you didn’t mention the best part of the movie which is without a doubt “You suck, Dick!”

  7. This movie is one of my all time favourites…I remember finally convincing my parents to watch it, and their shocked reactions when they realized that it’s actually incredibly clever.

  8. I remember my field trip to McDonalds in the 6th grade after visiting Illinois State Capitol Building. Madness.

  9. I loved this movie so much!! This makes me want to watch again

    rachaellambanderson.com

  10. Um. Omigod. I just read all your Old Lady Movie Nights and…wanna be best friends forever?!!!111uno!eleven?