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So who exactly was Deep Throat, that all-important source who helped Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein bust open the Watergate scandal? Well, according to this thoroughly funny, keenly smart comedy from director Andrew Fleming (The Craft), it was two sweetly daft teenage girls named Betsy and Arlene. Taking the history and figures from Watergate and running gleefully and sacrilegiously amok, Dick offers up a hilarious what-if scenario that takes the Nixon administration's downfall from grave tragedy to hilarious farce. When Betsy (Kirsten Dunst) and Arlene (Michelle Williams) run into a shady figure in the stairwell of Arlene's Watergate apartment building, little do they know they've stumbled upon G. Gordon Liddy (Harry Shearer) on the night of the Democratic National Headquarters break-in. Later, on a White House field trip, they wind up meeting with Nixon himself (Dan Hedaya), who, to ensure their silence, decides to make them official White House dog walkers and "secret youth advisors." Of course, Betsy and Arlene soon find out their idol has feet of clay, and ultimately decide to aid "radical muckraking journalists" (and queasy rivals) Woodward (Will Ferrell) and Bernstein (Bruce McCullough) in their investigation. Fleming and cowriter Sheryl Longin's enfolding of the Watergate scandal is extremely clever and inspired, from Arlene's 18-and-a-half-minute declaration of love on Nixon's tape recorder to the Hello Dolly cookies (laced with a certain herbal stimulant) that help bring about the U.S.-Soviet accord. And after all the angsty-serious portraits of Watergate, it's bliss to see the prime players sent up mercilessly; in addition to Shearer, the cast boasts Dave Foley (Erlichman), Jim Breuer (John Dean), Saul Rubinek (Kissinger), and Ana Gasteyer (Rosemary Woods), all in fine form. Hedaya's Nixon, dead-on but never parodic, is an Oscar-worthy comic turn, and Dunst and Williams invest their characters with affection and humor; the success of the film lies in the way these talented actresses make us laugh with Betsy and Arlene, never at them. Don't be put off by the teen sheen on this comedy--it's also for all of us who still remember Watergate even after 25 years, and still love dancing on the scandal's grave. --Mark Englehart
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