Mr Murphy goes to Washington in The Distinguished Gentleman, an uneven but occasionally quite funny political satire [from a screen story by Marty Kaplan and Jonathan Reynolds].

Mr Murphy goes to Washington in The Distinguished Gentleman, an uneven but occasionally quite funny political satire [from a screen story by Marty Kaplan and Jonathan Reynolds].

The movie starts with a very funny premise but doesn’t sustain it once the action shifts to the nation’s capital: what if a con man was swept into Washington by using the same name as a recently deceased congressman – playing on the notion most people don’t know if their rep is dead or alive anyway.

The twist, of course, is that the biggest scams of all go on legally in Washington. However, Murphy’s better nature takes over and prompts him to do the ethical thing.

The screenplay by Marty Kaplan (a former speechwriter for Walter Mondale) certainly has its fun with the depraved ins and outs of politics, even if there are no new wrinkles.

The transformation of Jeff Johnson (Eddie Murphy) into a caring sort is never convincing, other than his understandable desire to woo the niece (Victoria Rowell) of a principled rep (Charles S. Dutton).

Pic is an amalgam of past Murphy roles but most closely resembles Trading Places. Director Jonathan Lynn maintains a steady pace but can’t avoid arid stretches.

The Distinguished Gentleman

Production

Hollywood Pictures. Director Jonathan Lynn; Producer Leonard Goldberg, Michael Peyser; Screenplay Marty Kaplan; Camera Gabriel Beristain; Editor Tony Lombardo, Barry B. Leirer; Music Randy Edelman; Art Director Leslie Dilley

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1992. Running time: 113 MIN.

With

Eddie Murphy Lane Smith Sheryl Lee Ralph Joe Don Baker Victoria Rowell Grant Shaud
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