This political comedy film is directed by Jonathan Lynn, who previously had great success as a co-creator and co-writer of the British political comedy series Yes Minister (1980), and its' sequel, Yes, Prime Minister (1986).
During his run for Congress speech, Thomas Jefferson Johnson (Eddie Murphy) quotes several Presidents of the United States as well as a few other American historical figures including "Live Free or Die" from Revolutionary War General John Stark. He quotes four term Democrat President Franklin D. Roosevelt - "We have nothing to fear but fear itself"; Legendary 1960s Democrat President John F. Kennedy - "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country"; and George Bush (George H.W. Bush, nick-named Bush #41) - "Read My Lips".
The movie was first released in 1992 which was the year of an American Presidential Election. The film premiered stateside on 4th December 1992 which was about a month after the '92 Election between incumbent Republican 'George H.Bush', Independent Ross Perot, and Democrat Bill Clinton, with the latter winning. Publicity for this picture stated: "On Nov. 3, Americans will go to the polls to elect new leaders. On Dec. 4, Americans will go to the movies to see what we've gotten ourselves into."
The first two names of Thomas Jefferson Johnson (Eddie Murphy) are "Thomas Jefferson" which is a name famous in American Political History. Thomas Jefferson was author of the United States Declaration of Independence; second Vice President of the United States of America, 4 March 1797 - 4 March 1801; and the third President of the United States of America, 4 March 1801 - 4 March 1809.
To promote the picture, movie studio Disney ran prime time national film spots on networks ABC, CBS, CNN and Fox. The ads also played during many nightly news programs which directly followed the 1992 Vice Presidential debate. However, the Disney film studio did not book any TV spots for the following third and final Presidential Debate which was run the following week.
The movie's screenplay was written by Marty Kaplan who was a past speech-writer for Democrat 1984 Presidential Candidate Walter Mondale. He was married to political advocate, operative, pundit, and commentator Susan Estrich.
This comedy about an African-American politician was made and released just under a decade or nine years before another, Head of State (2003) starring Chris Rock. The earlier movie The Man (1972) had a story-line centered around, "The First Black President of the United States", as a tagline for the picture stated, with his inauguration featuring prominently on movie poster's for the 1970s film. Actor James Earl Jones was interviewed about portraying a fictional black U.S. president in The Man (1972) a few days before Barack Obama was sworn in as President on 20th January 2009. Jones said that he had misgivings about the film, mostly because they were blindsided when the project, which had been planned and budgeted as a tele-movie, was then released in theaters, and he wished that they'd had more time and resources to make a stronger final film.
The movie has won at least two film awards. It won the EMA Award (aka the Environmental Media Award) in 1993 awarded by the Environmental Media Awards and an award given by the Political Film Society awarding the picture and director Jonathan Lynn a Special Award about 2001/2002, which was around a decade after it had first debuted in theaters.
The line of dialogue about Senator Dick Dodge (Lane Smith) that Thomas Jefferson Johnson (Eddie Murphy) says, "Don't you love this Chairman? He's brought dignity back to the name Dick. No longer is it Tricky! Come on . . . Dick is Good! Dick is Good! ", is a comic reference to former disgraced Republican President Richard Nixon whose nick-name was Dick (aka Dick Nixon). Other similar comic dialogue in the movie by Murphy says: "Well, I'm very flattered, Mr Dick"; "Oh, I'm sorry, Chairman Dick"; and "Oh, Just Dick. Just Plain Old Dick" A later Nixon / Watergate political comedy was actually entitled Dick (1999), it being made and first released around seven years after this movie.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
At the end of this movie which debuted in 1992, African-American congressman Thomas Jefferson Johnson Eddie Murphy) says "I'm gonna run for President!". In reality, Barack Obama would be elected the first African-American President of the United States of America around sixteen years later in 2008.
The election campaign slogan of Thomas Jefferson Johnson (Eddie Murphy) was "The Name You Know". He changes his name from Thomas Jefferson Johnson by removing his first name "Thomas" and then abbreviating his middle "Jefferson" name to "Jeff" and calling himself "Jeff Johnson, so it would sound like the late incumbent Congressman's name Jeff Johnson (James Garner).