Wednesday, September 8, 2010

My Fellow Americans (1996)

Starring: Jack Lemmon, James Gardner, Dan Aykroyd
Directed by Peter Segal

"My Fellow Americans" is a film about two ex-Presidents and longtime rivals, Russell Kramer (Jack Lemmon) and Matt Douglas (James Gardner), who reluctantly put aside their differences in order to uncover a plot against them set up by the current man in the Oval Office (Dan Aykroyd).

This is a really good movie. The main laughs come from Kramer and Douglas fighting with one another over their various professional and personal shortcomings. I feel that if the lines that they deliver would not have worked with other actors, but screen veterans Lemmon and Gardner are such professionals that their delivery is very natural and sincere (even if their characters are actually being very insincere). There are also a number of funny parts where they end up in awkward situations while dealing with the common folk, as well as small yet humorous supporting roles like a vice-president who keeps making inappropriate remarks at the wrong time (Joe Biden, I mean...John Heard).

The plot itself is very interesting because it explores the mindset of a former commander-in-chief: what it is like to be the most powerful man in the world, the feelings of disapproval, and the little quirks that develop while in office (Kramer and Douglas both have their own personal versions of "Hail to the Chief"). In the end, this is what really brings the two together (though they never truly stop competing with one another): the fact that they are the only ones who know what it is like to hold the highest office in the land, only to fall from grace and find themselves dancing with a panda. That last part will make sense if you watch the film.

The story-line also has a lot of twists and turns, and almost ends on a bit of a downer, but then perks right back up again. The only problem I have with watching the movie is the fact that a lot of what is discussed are problems that, 14 years after its release, we are still dealing with (or rather not dealing with) today, which is a little disheartening. However, I do not blame the film itself, but rather [insert unfavorable institution here].

Anyway, it is an enjoyable film and I recommend it.