The Distinguished Gentleman (1992) Poster

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A very clever and sharp movie
Tiger_Mark13 November 2003
Being a Government teacher, I was curious about this film. As an Eddie Murphy vehicle, I was what somewhat curious to see if it would be an educational movie or just a comedic flick. Well, it was both. The story is funny and the plot is politically sharp. We see how the congressional committees work and how money influences our legislative process. Eddie Murphy has arrived as an actor that is still capable of making quality films.
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You may think that, I couldn't possibly comment...
DrPrunesquallor17 June 2001
Normally, I dont like Eddie Murphy films. This is a definite exception. He is not as over the top as in a lot of his roles, and carries it off with charm and substance, a little like Will Smith does now.

The plot (concerning a con man who decides theres more money to be made in politics) is for the most part hilarious, but seriously falls down into schmaltz once he starts developing a conscience.

Also, it is not as scathing about the American political system as it could be, giving out the impression that apart from a few bad apples, the majority of politicians do have the publics best interests at heart.

Anyone who enjoyed this should try and check out the English tv series "Yes, Minister". It is written by the director of this film (Jonathan Lynn) and is really much more effective in dealing with the British political system. Another british series along these lines is "House of Cards" and its follow ups, which really pulls no punches at all. And stars Ian Richardson. What more could you possibly want?
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One of Eddie's least appreciated films....
Isaac58557 June 2007
Though it laid a big fat egg at the box office, THE DISTINGUISHED GENTLEMAN is still one of Eddie Murphy's smartest and most entertaining films. Eddie plays a career con man who decides there is real money to be made in the political arena and using the name of his state's recently deceased incumbent, runs for Congress and is actually elected on the strength of his predecessor's name. Upon his arrival in Washington, he finds himself courted by many special lobbyists and finds him squaring off against one semi-crooked congressman (the late Lane Smith), whose personal agendas outweigh his duties to the people he represents and it is through his dealings with this guy and learning that politics is more than the big dodge he thought it was going to be, our hero learns to be a better person. This clever comedy takes the expected pot-shots at Washington, DC and politics in general, but also presents a fun good vs evil story surrounded by some elaborate trappings that make for a sophisticated comic romp. Murphy has rarely been better and he has surrounded himself with a superb supporting cast including Kevin McCarthy, Joe Don Baker, Charles S. Dutton, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Noble Willingham, and Grant Shaud. There is also a very funny cameo by James Garner as the congressman who Murphy succeeds. The movie is about 20 minutes too long, but for the most part, it is a very entertaining ride. It's not the kind of film hard-core Eddie-philes expect from him, but for those looking for something a little original and very funny...have your fill here.
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Highly Entertaining
ReelCheese7 May 2006
This overlooked Eddie Murphy from 1992 gem is much better than most critics would have you believe. Murphy plays a charming con man who swindles his way into Congress through voter inattention -- they think he's the incumbent, who is actually deceased. What starts as a game to merely soak the job for all it's worth turns into an unlikely effort to make a real difference. Several scenes are laugh-out-loud, particularly early on. Though a shade overlong, the story is engaging enough to keep the viewer's attention, and it serves up some nice potshots at how bloated and self-serving government has become. One of Murphy's best 'non-family' entries.
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More story than fun -- but still lotsa fun
MovieMusings8 February 2000
There were so many spots that seemed to demand "more Eddie." He only did a couple of impersonation schticks (during the campaign in the van scene, and the nerdy guy visiting the dead congressman's widow), and I wanted more! They were great.

The story is good, too. A con artist decides to become a congressman and play the game, only to find out that the issues involved are not a game. He becomes a person who cares.

Granted, it's a comedy, but it continues to remind us that, as long as humans run organizations, is ANY organization pure virtue and no vice? Religion? Law enforcement? Academia? Government? Corporate society? Sports? Is any system free of corruption?

We all live in glass houses. And there are individuals out there trying at least to keep their windows clean.
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Wonderful satire!
Charlie Green28 December 2002
As a political wonk, I found this movie perfect! I think this is the best Eddie Murphy movie ever! Actually, I am disappointed it took me so long to see it (today, 12/28/02). I was amazed at the negative reviews. What is these people's problem? That the US government doesn't work like this? Or that Eddie's character could actually realize that screwing ordinary citizens is different from swindling corporations and rich people?
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One of Murphy's few above average movies
Normy189 July 1999
I'll start off by saying I don't particularly like Eddie Murphy. I think he is not always in tune with what is funny, and the only movie that he was in that I truly enjoyed (I thought he was excellent in the Nutty Proffessor but I didn't like the movie really) was Beverly Hills Cop. And this one. Here's why:

Eddie Murphy does not force his humor in this movie, like he tries in almost everything else I've seen him in. For most of the movie, he seems himself. Not only that, you actually see a little drama from Eddie, which while not ranking up there with the likes of Hanks and Hackman, he certainly makes you believe he's got another side to him.

The movie, while stretching credibility, attacks the System very well, both dramatically and humorously. If one watches this movie expecting a mild satire instead of a barrel of laughs or a breathtaking plot, they will probably enjoy it, assuming they didn't hate Beverly Hills Cop.
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A pretty obvious satire but enjoyable nonetheless and featuring a mostly on form Murphy
bob the moo4 August 2006
Thomas Jefferson Johnson is a small time con artist who realises the money in politics when he overhears Congressman Jeff Johnson during one of his scams. When the Congressman dies between his secretary's legs in his office while "poling the electorate" Thomas sees his opportunity. Dropping his first name in the hope that name recognition will see him through, Thomas and his crew go to work and it is not long before they slide their way to Washington. Once in town he gets on the gravy train straight away – joining his colleagues in Congress, he is soon up to his neck in contributions and fund raisers but is this really what it is all about?

Although it starts out with plenty of big, easy targets the first half of the film is lively and quite funny. The broad satire is never that cutting or intelligent but it does the job for an Eddie Murphy comedy. Unfortunately, around the halfway mark the obvious plot suddenly has Thomas develop a heart and the film grinds to a halt. Happily it gets its senses back in the final section and is a return to the lively first part – this is not to say that it is brilliant because it isn't, but it is amusing and pretty enjoyable apart from the narrative arch having a massive hole in the middle of it.

The cast are mixed dependant on their material. Murphy himself is on good form. His con artist character suits his on screen personae and he works the dialogue really well – he is all at sea when he has to convince the audience of the change in his character but he moves through that as quickly as he can. The supporting cast are all in his shadow on this but at least there are plenty of famous faces. Smith, Dutton, McBride, Baker, Ralph and McCarthy all add an ensemble feel to the film even if it is very much Murphy's vehicle. Lynn's direction is OK but he can't do much of real intelligence with the basic tools presented to him by the writers.

Overall this is not the sharpest of satires but the big simple targets are still enjoyably hit. The middle section is poor but Murphy ensures that the majority of it will be good enough to please his fans even if it could have been so much better.
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Trying to "Distinguish" the old Eddie from the new.
happipuppi1313 May 2006
When Eddie Murphy hit it big on Saturday Night Live,he became the hottest featured player on there since John Belushi. Along with that came his (then) shocking and hilarious comedy albums. He Like Steve Martin in the '70s,became a stand-up comedian,treated like a rock star.

Then came great films like 48 Hours,Trading Places & Beverly Hills Cop #1 & Pt.2 and Coming To America. Mis-steps like Best Defense (which he's barely in) and Golden Child. Mostly though,it was his (clean version here) "smart-aleck"/street smart persona that made him. It's also what broke him,at least for awhile.

Harlem Nights was a disaster,Another 48 Hourscould have been made on a Xerox machine. People had begun to tire of him. In 1992 it seemed he had rebounded with "Boomerang" but then came this.

The Distinguished gentleman takes Murphy,once again back to the street smart,con artist he'd played before. The smart aleck humor seemed tired for a man (then) 30 years old. It was a somewhat nice touch that his character sees the realities involved in the office he's won based on (someone else's) name recognition. Seeing a little girl whose hair has fallen out due to electrical tower radiation makes him see the light.

Most comedies have a pretty funny ending but the writers couldn't even give us that. In the last moment,I was like,"That's it?"

Four stars is a generous rating here but I feel that Murphy was at least trying to say good-bye to his 80s super-star and hello to maturity,which he finally found. After Beverly Hills Cop 3,he never looked back again. (END)
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One of the Best Political Comedies Ever
kallah27 August 2000
I've seen Citizen Kane and wasn't half as impressed with it as I was with this film which I credit to producer and writer Marty Kaplan (who, as I understand, is a CPA). The only thing this movie lacks is violence and nudity, not that it needs either.

I've never seen a more thorough and realistic comedy about government and politics before or since this film. Only Bulworth comes close, yet the solutions suggested in that film were just as liberal as the institution it parodied. There are a few liberal connotations in The Distinguished Gentleman (particularly environmental), but they are immediately balanced and authenticated by the conditions presented in the story.

This film isn't an absolute probe into political science, but it gives a more lucid perspective of politics than the media would ever care to attempt. Eddie Murphy's performance is vintage, particularly his mimicking skills and his genuine comedic brilliance. A moment that defines the film is when his character gives a victory speech which consists exclusively of several cliches coined by historic politicians ("'Four score and seven years ago...' 'If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen...' 'We have nothing to fear but fear itself...' 'Ask not what your country can do for you...' and in conclusion 'Read my lips!'"). The crowd response, as with actual politicians, is full of mindless cheers of concurrence.

Political experts may find this film silly and full of inconsistencies. Yet, the fact is, most movies are silly compared to reality. This film, however, does not insult the viewer and gives political novices a good idea of political mechanics while presenting a hilarious performance. The fact presented in this film is that the most powerful people are the most corrupt, and corruption can only be defeated by more clever and deceptive corruption.

This is not a film for "Generation X"ers who rate a film on its music soundtrack and how thoroughly the females cast in it prostitute themselves. If you appreciate the comedy of Eddie Murphy and have a critical appreciation for politics, you will enjoy this film.

I'd give it a 9.5, but the IMDB won't allow decimals.
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Jeff Johnson: the name you can trust
Newsense10 January 2009
Warning: Spoilers
The Distinguished Gentleman is one of those movies that was a little too smart for its audience. Because of this, it came and went in theaters. I think its one of Eddie Murphy's better movies.

The story: Eddie Murphy plays Thomas Jefferson Johnson, a small-time crook that runs for Congress and wins. He ran with intentions of getting rich and left with intentions of helping the little people that get ran over by those corporate fat cats in the oval office. This being after he meets up a cancer-stricken girl that is a victim of the power lines over her school.

Eddie Murphy is great as the slick con man and he looks like he wants to be in this movie not like these later flicks where he phones in his performance. Lane Smith is perfect as the corrupted chairman Dick Dodge and so is Joe Don Baker as Olaf Anderson. Victoria Rowell(who plays Celia Kirby) and Charles S. Dutton(who plays Elijah Hawkins) turn in some good performances too. I like how this movie targets the don't-give-a-damn mentality of all of these politicians in the White House. It was good in its satire even when the humor misses(rarely). The Distinguished Gentleman is underrated but is definitely recommended to the crowd that can see past their nose.
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A Smash!!!
bixman716 July 2002
Eddie Murphy is a great actor and he proves it in this movie. In it, Con man Murphy decides he can make more money as a United States Congressman than a hood. Victoria Rowell as Murphy's lawyer-activist love interest, Lane Smith as his double-dealing "political" mentor, and Joe Don Baker as the power magnate who tries to put both men in his pocket, bat great cleanup. All of this movie, coming from a pure political buff like myself, is great. For all you Alan Keyes fans out there, watch this movie for Charles S. Dutton's great performance as Eliah Hawkins, a preachy minister-Maryland congressman who I think is like Keyes in every way.
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Amusing Comedy
steve753121 April 2002
Another film from the Director of My Cousin Vinnie. It has some very funny scenes in it, and it's worth a view. The acting was very good. Lane Smith does a good job of being a corrupt politician, as does Joe Don Baker as being the CEO of a Power company. It's not always believable, but it's good natured fun.
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Eddie Murphy's best performances.
cmyklefty11 January 2002
Eddie Murphy plays a con turned congressman. He goes to Washington and cons he way into congress. This movie has a lot of political humor that holds true about the Capital and politics today. Murphy fits this role to a T and one his best acting performances. Well worth to trouble to see.
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Truly, a different side of Eddie
hotcupofjava-126 June 2007
I agree with some of the comments made here, and disagree with others. For those of us who were looking for the usual Eddie Murphy, you will not find him here. While watching this movie on T.V., I went to IMDb to find out more. I saw that COMEDY was not one of the genres listed for this movie. At first, I thought that nobody had added it yet, that is until I saw the whole movie. I believe it may have been an attempt for Eddie Murphy to explore a serious character-role for a change. I think he did a great job!! Although he was not cracking us up with jokes and impersonations (but he did do a few on the phone to get important information), he was still entertaining to watch. Also, the political side of the story may not have been true-to-life, but it does give the laymen (and laywomen) an idea of some of the games the big-wigs play in the United States of Americow.
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The Distinguished Eddie
jtpaladin3 December 2002
To really appreciate this film, you have to consider that it was released in 1992 when the Democrats controlled the House and the Senate and graft and corruption were the rules of Congress. The film centers around Murphy as a con man who gets himself elected to Congress and his attempts to put as much money in his pocket as possible.

In order to maximize his influence with lobbyists, Murphy gets himself appointed to the most powerful committee in Congress, which in real-life is the Ways & Means Committee and when this film was made, was run by Dan Rostenkowski, but in the film is run by the equally corrupt Dick Dodge.

In 1994, Rostenkowski was indicted on corruption charges and stepped down as Ways and Means chairman; he lost his House seat in the Congressional elections later that year. He pleaded guilty to mail fraud in 1996, and was fined and served (1996–97) a 17-month sentence.

One of the great things about this film is how it parallels the real-life Congress and how sleazy things were run under the Democrats when they controlled it. This film is a must for anyone interested in politics and for anyone that would like to see Murphy play a different role than his usual fare.
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More Stereotypes & Liberal B.S. - Does It Ever End? (Nope)
ccthemovieman-110 October 2007
Here is yet another in a long, long line of Hollywood films in which all the black people are smarter than the stupid white folks, and all the politicians are corrupt. Wow, Liberal Hollywood has something original. Yes, to them two wrongs always make a right so let's show what good people we are by reversing the racism. Let's also get one of the hotter black stars of the era to play the "hero," too, and have him show all those corrupt politicians how it should be done, even though that "good guy." played by Eddie Murphy, is a crook, too. That's another familiar Hollywood theme since the '60s: make the hero morally unsound but someone to root for. Throw in some ludicrous "conspiracy theories" like power lines causing cancer, and you have another Looney Left delight.

There are so many bad messages in here, it would make your head swim. It's also too profane, but that's no surprise with Murphy in the lead role and a total unknown - who has remained such in the last 15 years, Victoria Powell - as the female lead.

This is a poor man's "Trading Places," another movie in which a nobody, here a slimeball con man, can turn into a somebody, a man elected to congress. Except in Massachusetts or some other elitist state, I'm sure that could never happen!

One positive thing about this film: Murphy is actually low-key and much less abrasive than his normal characters. That was nice to see-and hear! He's a talented actor and doesn't always need to scream and shout to get laughs. The film gets a few stars for that alone, even though most people prefer the wise-ass Murphy.
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Did i see the same movie as everyone else????
duke3310 August 2001
Hmmm...I must be in the silent minority on this one. I thought this movie was absolutely atrocious. The plot was flimsy, the film moved WAY to fast at the beginning, and the big conspiracy was about power lines causing cancer...It was sad that was the best they could come up with. If you want to see truly great acting by Eddie Murphy, rent Bowfinger, Coming to America, or Trading Places. If you want to see a jumbled mess, watch this movie instead.
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A Fun Little Movie
StanGellner4 January 2002
I quite enjoyed "The Distinguished Gentleman." In my opinion, it's one of Eddie Murphy's better efforts. If you are just familiar with his latest endeavors, that may not be saying much. But if you are familiar with such classics as "Beverly Hills Cop," "Trading Places," and "48 Hours" you know that it is high praise indeed. If you are a fan of early Murphy, I recommend you see this underrated little gem. 8/10
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Mr. Murphy Goes to Washington
Takeshi-K19 October 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Masquerading as light comedy, this is actually a really clever satire for what it is. Its better than Wag The Dog and Idiocracy and is an easily digestible version of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939). Eddie Murphy plays a naive but slightly corrupt huckster who believes getting into office in Washington will give him the kind of cushy job that will pay him well to do very little actual work. When he encounters what the job actually entails, he is forced to question his place in the world and in a heartwarming way achieves what in reality is utterly impossible; doing the right thing in Washington free from the unnecessary corruption that drives it.
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chadd6 February 1999
I think this movie is very funny and Eddie Murphy is just awesome as usual. I especially liked the first three quarters of the movie - the truth is that given the good cast and essential plot the Director and the writers could have given it a different twist towards the end and THEN it would have been a winner. Pity. But again, the actors and the actresses are the best.
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should be required viewing of every American
jaxson22 January 1999
i found myself laughing nervously at this movie. not that it isn't absolutely hilarious (it is). it's just that the movie hits too close to the concerns i feel when i view the "comedy" that goes on every day in washington!

if it weren't for the blatantly funny lines and over-the-top portrayal by murphy, i think this could be classified as a "black comedy". to me, it's almost as scary as "seven days in may". instead of a military takeover of the government, it's been taken over by people who have the money to buy congressional votes! the scary part is that it's already happened!

i think that "the distinguished gentleman" should be required viewing of every american that is of voting age! maybe it would mobilize us to become more vocal when it comes to capturing back our representatives' attention!
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The worst film ever?????
russtem_18 December 2005
I was just having a discussion with my work colleague about what may have been the worst film either of us has ever seen. He plumped for The Naked Lunch (?)and I went for this turkey. The most amusing part of my whole viewing experience was when a man in his mid 30's, young family in tow, began to walk out of the cinema and then, once he reached the aisle, turned to face the screen and shouted "B*ll@#ks!!!" at the top of his voice before calmly turning round and walking out. This expressed what most of the audience, myself included, were thinking at that time. Well done, that man....

Can't help but agree with an earlier post -I am SHOCKED to see so many people give positive reviews to this inane drivel and felt I needed to redress the balance somewhat. What is the world coming to, eh???
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Good start, average middle, cheesy ending
xbernard14 August 2007
Eddie Murphy is a man capable of high energy humor, and is efficient with his broad smile, mimics and impersonations. And this movie gives him some great moments especially in the beginning.

Eddie Murphy starts as a Florida con 'artist' accompanied by some accomplices blackmailing people who use his private fake phone-sex service. While racketing a congressman, he finds out that running for Congress will earn him more money than he does now. His asset to get elected is his name which he shares with a just-deceased congressman called Jeff Johnson. His way to the top of course hardly meets any difficulty but, after all, this is a comedy so we don't mind as long as it's entertaining.

But then things go wrong, Johnson meets a Pro Bono lobbyist, falls in love with her pretty fast but their relationship doesn't add anything to the movie and is not developed and chemistry between both actors is obviously missing.

First, Johnson enjoys his journey at the Congress but he soon realizes he can't keep a straight face and simultaneously take part to the different frauds and corruption present.

This is where the movie takes a turn for the serious and forgets it started out as a comedy. It's now trying to make a point. Johnson accepts to help a town where children are submitted to the negative effects of power high lines causing a great deal of them to suffer from cancer. Johnson develops a plan to force Congress to do something and expose publicly the aforementioned frauds and corruption. All this is done in an unexplainable cheesy way.

Shame, as the movie contained some good ideas for a comedy but director Jonathan Lynn seems to have been distracted and forgot that his original intention was to make a good comedy with Eddie Murphy having a good time at Congress.
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