Monday, July 25, 2016
THE DISTINGUISHED GENTLEMAN (1992)
Directed By: Jonathan Lynn
Written By: Marty Kaplan
Story By: Marty Kaplan & Jonathan Reynolds
Cinematography By: Gabriel Beristain
Editor: Barry B. Leirer & Tony Lombardo
Cast: Eddie Murphy, Charles S. Dutton, Victoria Rowell, Lane Smith, Grant Shaud, Kevin McCarthy, James Garner, Joe Don Baker, Chi McBride, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Victor Rivers, Daniel Benzali
A Florida con man uses the passing of the long time Congressman from his district who he just happens to share a name with, to get elected to his version of paradise, Congress, where the money flows from lobbyists. But soon he learns the nature of the game and decides to fight back the only way he knows how, with a con.
This was the first time Eddie Murphy appeared in a film that was not distributed by Paramount Pictures.
The film has the interesting premise of having a con-man going into politics and find it even more corrupt then he could even imagine and everything is going fine until he decides to grow a conscious. Which is helped along due to a romantic interest.
The film is basically built around the humor and charisma of the star Eddie Murphy. As it seems the movie is more Mr. Murphy goes to Washington.
The film seems strangely clean material wise there is strong language here and there but for the most part the film could play as a family film for older kids. At least probably compared to what is out there today. Even though even kids might be a bit bored by this film which has more dialogue then slapstick scenes.
The problem is that the cast around him fills out the necessary one dimensional roles. There is a cameo by James Garner in the early scenes that seemed to give the film more of a prestiege. Della Reese only seems here to remind people of the animosity she and Eddie Murphy had in scenes in HARLEM NIGHTS. As they have a similar but less vicious one here. She only is around for a handful of scenes.
The rest fill out their roles but are given barely any material to work with. So they just stand around and deliver what is required without making any mark.
This film finds Mr. Murphy more at a crossroads as he is still a movie star but starting to drop as his films aren't a guaranteed hit. This was right before he decided to do more kids films. So while this film isn't a hard R. It isn't the classic Eddie Murphy either. Here he is more starting to lighten up. We can say that he can only be as good as the material.
The film is a film of it's time which is a Nice way to say dated. The films strives to be a crossover film. Meant to unite audiences of all races. Even through part of the premise is this more urban street smart guy making the rounds through the privledged white collar but even dirtier Streets of the politics of Washington D.C. The only Sly eye the film brings about is the ridiculousness of politics and the passing of laws through bribery which we had all know. But this was the first film that was designed as a blockbuster to expose it on the big screen. Not that it goes after the subject with a vengeance but suggests it. Which when it came out and me being so young really opened my eyes.
I remember seeing this film in theaters when I was a teenager and really being at my own crossroads as it was the first time I realized Eddie Murphy wasn't magical. I really was excited to see the film. But as I sat through it by the end I told myself I liked it but there were so many moments of disappointment. When I watched it again on horn video a few months later I realized that I didn't really enjoy it and having watched it recently I can really see why the film is so disappointing.
I have gone on record as a huge Eddie Murphy fan and while the film gives him plenty of ammo to work with. The film just doesn't seem worthwhile in the end. Even though this seems the closest character to his personality all smiles, little jokes here and there and Provacative colorful suits. The entourage. His seemingly real reactions and over sharing in some situations.
There are some laughs but most of the humor is television level and the jokes a lot of times that might have been timely back then. Just seem to sit there watching it now.
Part of the humor and fascination of the film is the idea of a African-American in the white world of politics back ground successful and keeping his morals to a degree. One last home even suggests his character running for president. Which at the time seemed an impossibility that became a reality only a couple of decades later.
In the end there is just no effort put forth to make the film feel and kind of inspiration. The film plays routine and measured. So that whole Eddie Murphy is supposed to be the wild card he ends up fitting In Way too easily. As he was supposed to make the film more entertaining through personality, but there are limits to what he can do or really if he wants to.
He seems more scripted then usual as the films comedy comes off more lean with all the delicious fat trimmed off. Which might be more healthy but not as tasty or memorable.
This political comedy film is directed by Jonathan Lynn, who previously was a co-creator and co-writer of the British political comedy series YES MINISTER, and its' sequel, YES, PRIME MINISTER.
The film ends up being serviceable but not as juicy as you would like. To general Audiences and staying focused purely On the story then any asides it even character development. The film feels too straight laced.
Though if that is what you are looking for, more a safe Eddie Murphy comedy this is one for you (Though seems sort of almost blasphemous)