Saturday, November 28, 2009

My Fellow Americans

Day 332 - 11/28/09 - Movie #332

BEFORE: Let's keep the theme going with this comedy, starring Jack Lemmon and James Garner as a couple of ex-presidents.

THE PLOT: Framed in a scandal by the current President and pursued by armed agents, two squabbling political foes plunge into a desperate search for the evidence that will establish their innocence.

AFTER: aka "Grumpy Old Presidents" - it's sort of a road-trip buddy comedy, it reminded me a little of "Midnight Run". Ex-President Kramer (Lemmon) and ex-president Douglas (Garner) have to team up to get across the country, after their helicopter blows up, in what looks like an attempt to have them killed. Of course one is a Democrat and the other is a Republican, and there's a lot of animosity left over from their campaigning days. They're both one-term presidents, and one replaced the other as president, you see.

They're pursued by agents of some sort - NSA, or CIA, and after their copter crashes in North Carolina, they've got to make their way to Ohio to get evidence from Kramer's presidential library that will clear Kramer from a defense contractor scandal. But it seems like current President Haney (Dan Aykroyd) wants Kramer to take the fall, and Garner's out for the same info, as a favor to the DNC chairman.

It's a funny enough premise, and there are a few laughs as the presidents encounter locals in West Virginia and Ohio, from lady truck drivers and trailer park families to gay pride marchers and lesbian bikers. But the humor's sort of cheap, and the plot's not that complex.

Also starring John Heard as the Vice-President, Wilford Brimley as the DNC chairman, Lauren Bacall as a former First Lady, Sela Ward as a reporter, and Everett McGill ("Big Ed" from "Twin Peaks") as a rogue NSA colonel. Also character actors James Rebhorn and Conchata Ferrell, and a quick cameo by Esther Rolle as the White House cook.

And the West Wing staffers keep showing up this week - Bradley Whitford plays Haney's chief of staff (sort of a downgrade from working for President Bartlett). So in movies this week I've seen 8 regulars from West Wing - Whitford, Martin Sheen, Allison Janney ("Primary Colors"), Joshua Malina ("The American President"), Oliver Platt ("Bulworth"), Tim Matheson ("Black Sheep"), Nina Siemaszko ("The American President") and Anna Deavere Smith (also in "The American President") I guess once you get cast in a political movie or TV show, you're locked into that genre... I'm half-expecting Richard Schiff or Janel Moloney to turn up in tomorrow's movie.

RATING: 5 out of 10 rental cars

1 comment:

  1. This film was the genesis of what I loosely call "the James Garner Rule": almost any movie starring Garner and one of his contemporaries will be entertaining. Just because these guys rarely get prominent roles, they're wonderful actors, and they're good at what they do.

    So I liked this film for the same reason why I liked "Space Cowboys." It's just good to see these guys -- headliners in the 70's -- suiting up for a movie that isn't headed straight for either DVD or The Hallmark Channel.

    (Plus, the payoff for the cheap Gay Pride March joke was well worth it!)