Friday, June 1, 2018

Movie #463: My Fellow Americans

My Fellow Americans is one of many 90s comedies playing off the success of Grumpy Old Men, and stars Jack Lemmon, James Garner, Dan Aykroyd, John Heard, Lauren Bacall, Wilford Brimley, Everett McGill, and Bradley Whitford.

Russell Kramer (Lemmon) and Matt Douglas (Garner) both served a single term as President (Republican and Democrat, respectively), and hate each other's guts. They find themselves mixed up in a conspiracy masterminded (they think) by Kramer's former veep, current President Haney (Aykroyd), but in fact masterminded by his veep, Matthews (Heard), who's pretending to be a Quayle-like idiot in public. The Matthews thing is a footnote, though; it's meant as a big reveal but the meet of the story is about Kramer and Douglas sneaking across the country with the NSA (headed by rogue agent Tanner, played with appropriate menace by McGill) following them.

Along the way they meet a few lower and working class Americans in North Carolina, West Virginia, and Ohio, and finally discover that shit, there are people out there who really do believe in the office of the President and in the American system. The movie ends with them running as an independent ticket.

So, I enjoy this movie largely because I'm a fan of both Lemmon and Garner, and there's enough clever interplay between them that you can avoid looking too hard at the premise (which falls apart almost immediately if you squint). Lauren Bacall is wasted as Kramer's wife, but the two of them have chemistry so they're fun in their brief scenes together. The supporting cast is pretty strong in general, although it's also very, very white, which is a shame.

But it's interesting watching this movie now. Like, the opening line in the movie talks about how bitter the relationship is between these two. And then four years later, when Douglas gets voted in (meaning the Democrats ran him against Kramer for the second time, after losing the first time, which rings false, but then again the first race between them was said to be extremely close), Kramer calls upon his supporters to respect and support the new president, despite any misgivings. That's supposed to be rancorous. Watching this movie in 2018, when we have a horrible vulgarian in the White House who talked about the size of his dick and bragged about sexual assault while campaigning, holy shit, I would love to have a president like Kramer, who's dignified and honest (Douglas is charming, but in one note about this movie that rings true he's described as not doing much during his presidency).

Anyway, the movie is funny but it stings a little these days. Douglas has a speech in the movie where he says that somewhere out there, there's a fool who still believes that elected politicians will do what they're elected to do, and if we lose that guy, man, it's over.

I think those fools are still out there, but they voted for Trump. Hey-ho. Anyway, this is more analysis than this movie deserves, so I'ma shut up.

My Grade: B
Rewatch value: Medium-high

Next up: My Name is Bruce