Dir: Jonathan Lynn, 1992
By this point in his career, Eddie Murphy had fallen out of favour with critics. Any movies he made, were immediately treated with derision and written off without being given a chance.
It has to be said, that although his output in the nineties lacked the brilliance of Trading Places and Coming To America, his films were vastly still vastly underrated. But, with Murphy’s charm and likeability, any poor material became a haven of laughs.
Thomas Jefferson Johnson (Murphy) is a Florida conman who, along with his cousin, Miss Loretta, and friend, Armando, blahs his way into politics, using the name of recently deceased congressman, Jeff Johnson (James Garner).
That’s the plot, in a nutshell. It’s nothing spectacular, or even original. The Distinguished Gentleman boils down to merely a fish out of water movie. But, Murphy is able to take the role and run with it, with director Lynn, awarding him the freedom he needs.
No stranger to political satire, British director Lynn was the co-creator of the hit BBC sitcom Yes Minister and it’s sequel Yes, Prime Minister. Although those two programmes dealt with Whitehall in London, politics are the same the world over and Lynn fully understands what is needed to depict the humour evident in the sleazy shenanigans.
Regardless, this is Eddie Murphy’s film all the way, stealing every scene from under the noses of his co-stars.
The Distinguished Gentleman is by no means a masterpiece, or even particularly memorable, but it does offer enough laughs to make the time worthwhile.