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In the conniving world of politics, even a professional shyster like Thomas Jefferson Johnson (Eddie Murphy) can find himself outmatched. After using name recognition to get elected, Johnson enjoys many of the same financial perks as other politicians. However, while investigating the connection between electric companies and cancer in young children, he unexpectedly develops a conscience. Unfortunately, fellow Congressman Dick Dodge (Lane Smith) isn't about to let him rock the boat.
This comedy about an African-American politician was made and released just under a decade or nine years before another, Head of State (2003) starring Chris Rock. The earlier movieThe Man (1972) had a story-line centered around, "The First Black President of the United States", as a tagline for the picture stated, with his inauguration featuring prominently on movie poster's for the 1970s film. Actor James Earl Jones was interviewed about portraying a fictional black U.S. president in The Man (1972) a few days before Barack Obama was sworn in as President on 20th January 2009. Jones said that he had misgivings about the film, mostly because they were blindsided when the project, which had been planned and budgeted as a tele-movie, was then released in theaters, and he wished that they'd had more time and resources to make a stronger final film. See more »
When congressman Johnson first sits down with Celia Kirby and her assistant Ira Schecter , Johnson asks Ira about how much he pays for auto insurance and Ira states that he owns a 1982 Dodge Dart. The Dodge Dart was manufactured from 1960 through 1976 and then again from 2013 through the present. There is no such thing as a 1982 Dodge Dart. See more »
[trying to bribe Congressman Dodge]
This could mean six figures, Dick.
[Dick Dodge raises his eyebrows]
HIGH six figures.
[Dodge raises his eyebrows twice]
See more »
A pretty obvious satire but enjoyable nonetheless and featuring a mostly on form Murphy
Thomas Jefferson Johnson is a small time con artist who realises the money in politics when he overhears Congressman Jeff Johnson during one of his scams. When the Congressman dies between his secretary's legs in his office while "poling the electorate" Thomas sees his opportunity. Dropping his first name in the hope that name recognition will see him through, Thomas and his crew go to work and it is not long before they slide their way to Washington. Once in town he gets on the gravy train straight away joining his colleagues in Congress, he is soon up to his neck in contributions and fund raisers but is this really what it is all about?
Although it starts out with plenty of big, easy targets the first half of the film is lively and quite funny. The broad satire is never that cutting or intelligent but it does the job for an Eddie Murphy comedy. Unfortunately, around the halfway mark the obvious plot suddenly has Thomas develop a heart and the film grinds to a halt. Happily it gets its senses back in the final section and is a return to the lively first part this is not to say that it is brilliant because it isn't, but it is amusing and pretty enjoyable apart from the narrative arch having a massive hole in the middle of it.
The cast are mixed dependant on their material. Murphy himself is on good form. His con artist character suits his on screen personae and he works the dialogue really well he is all at sea when he has to convince the audience of the change in his character but he moves through that as quickly as he can. The supporting cast are all in his shadow on this but at least there are plenty of famous faces. Smith, Dutton, McBride, Baker, Ralph and McCarthy all add an ensemble feel to the film even if it is very much Murphy's vehicle. Lynn's direction is OK but he can't do much of real intelligence with the basic tools presented to him by the writers.
Overall this is not the sharpest of satires but the big simple targets are still enjoyably hit. The middle section is poor but Murphy ensures that the majority of it will be good enough to please his fans even if it could have been so much better.
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