Reviewed by: Brett Willis
|Featuring||Jack Lemmon, James Garner, Dan Aykroyd, John Heard, Wilford Brimley, Lauren Bacall, Sela Ward|
Few of today’s so-called comedy movies are really funny. This one does have a lot of legitimate laughs, but it also has plenty of sexual humor and so much political satire that it tends to create disrespect for the Presidency in general.
Former U.S. Presidents Russ Kramer (Jack Lemmon) and Matt Douglas (James Garner), each of whom once defeated the other, are grudgingly drawn together through their separate investigations of why current President Haney (Dan Aykroyd) is falsely accusing Kramer of being involved in an old kickback scheme. Eventually they’re drawn even closer together when their investigations make them both targets of assassination. They’re forced to travel the country in obscurity (as obscure as an ex-President with a recognizable face can be); in the process, they meet an assortment of “ordinary” Americans and get to see how their Presidential policies have affected real people.
The profane language is large and varied; there’s at least one occurrence of almost everything. Even after Kramer and Douglas have an overdue change of heart about some other issues, they still enjoy skewering each other with gutter humor. Anyone who was offended at Harrison Ford’s language as the President in “Air Force One” should definitely avoid this film. Many social issues (the loss of jobs, illegal immigration, gay rights) are touched on, though few are dealt with seriously. There are a number of on-screen killings in connection with the cover-up of the kickback and its investigation. Douglas, the only Democrat of the four fictional Presidents in the film, is portrayed as an insatiable woman-chaser and has one of the film’s two implied sex scenes; I wonder who his character was modeled on. The Republicans are portrayed as out of touch with the common people, muttering nonsense platitudes, insensitive to minorities, etc.; and either President Haney or someone close to him has ordered the murders of Kramer and Douglas. Vice President Matthews (John Heard) is particularly dense and is probably a caricature of Dan Quayle, or rather of Quayle’s media image which is itself a caricature.
This film should not be regarded as political commentary, but only as escapist humor for mature audiences. It’s unfortunate that real-life American politics is corrupt enough to make the humor effective.