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My Fellow Americans (1996)

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Two former U. S. Presidents, hated rivals, join forces to expose the current, corrupt President at the risk of their lives.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... President Russell P. Kramer
... President Matt Douglas
... President William Haney
... Vice President Ted Matthews
... Joe Hollis
... Margaret Kramer
... Kaye Griffin
... Col. Paul Tanner
... Carl Witnaur
... Charlie Reynolds
... Rita
... Woman Truck Driver
... Wayne
... Genny
... NSA Agent Wilkerson
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Storyline

Kramer and Douglas, two former presidents from opposite ends of the political spectrum, become reluctant allies when they become the target of a conspirator in President Haney's administration. The two ex-presidents realize they have an enemy within the government and set out to find evidence that will clear their names. The search takes them across the Southern Appalachians; along the way they meet a homeless couple, thwart kidnapers in the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant, and find themselves marching in a gay pride parade. Written by Dennis Lewis <dsl@sprynet.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A comedy about life, liberty and the pursuit of two ex-presidents.

Genres:

Adventure | Comedy

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for salty language and innuendo | See all certifications »

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Details

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Language:

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Release Date:

20 December 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Grumpy Old Presidents  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$21,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$2,860,334, 22 December 1996, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$22,294,341, 16 March 1997
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Released four years after The Distinguished Gentleman, another political comedy film which also includes James Garner. While here he was a former president with a philandering nature, in the 1992 film, he was a longtime congressman who died while having sex with his assistant and thus paved the way for Eddie Murphy's character to be elected and assume his post. See more »

Goofs

When Col. Tanner enters the house of President Kramer, he addresses both of the Presidents as "Sirs." Proper protocol when addressing two superior ranking male individuals in the Government has it that you address them as "Gentlemen." See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Edwin Newman: It has been described as one of the most vicious presidential races in the history of American politics, and one of the closest. The Republican nominee, Senator Russell P Kramer of Ohio, is practically dead even in the polls with his bitter rival, Democratic Governor Matt Douglas of Indiana. To say there is no love lost between these two candidates is a gross understatement. And yet tonight, in spite of their almost overwhelming distaste for each other, one of these men will have ...
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Connections

Referenced in Get Smart (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

Presidential Booty aka White Men Can't Rap
Written by Clif Magness and Peter Segal
Produced by Clif Magness
Performed by Peter Segal, William Kerr and David 'Skippy' Malloy
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User Reviews

 
Descent One-Watch Political Comedy Which Will End Up Being More Amusing than the Trump Presidency
11 November 2016 | by See all my reviews

The premise of the film is that current office-holder President William Haney (Dan Ackroyd) was involved in an illegal kick-back scheme, giving contracts to a defense company for cash when he was vice president. To prevent the downfall of Haney's presidency, his assistant Carl Witnaur (Bradley Whitford) creates an ingenious cover-up: pin it on former president Russell Kramer (Jack Lemmon). Now while kick-backs are viewed as essentially like bribes, these transgressions may pale in comparison to the nightmare of a Donald Trump presidency. At this writing, Donald Trump was just elected the 45th president of the United States, and the country's divisive nature is rearing its ugly head with protests against a Trump presidency in several urban centers.

The film essentially veers away from any controversy and is essentially a harmless road-movie comedy. The premise is that because of the cover-up, the forces loyal to Haney are hunting down both former presidents Kramer and his republican rival President Matt Douglas (James Garner), both one-term presidents. They are forced to help each other, traveling to Kramer's presidential library in Cleveland, OH. Lemon as Kramer seems loosely based on President George H.W. Bush, conservative republican, and President Douglas is loosely based on President Bill Clinton, womanizing democrat. The main outcome which is only applied with a sledge-hammer is that the one-term presidents of opposing parties have more in common than they realize.

Similar to many other road films, from "the Silver Streak" with Gene Wilder and Richard Prior in the 1970's to "Get Him to the Greek" starring Russell Brand and Jonah Hill in 2010, "My Fellow Americans" is the tried-and-true formula of two reluctant traveling companions who discover more about one-another than when they were political rivals. They intersect with members of middle America with which they probably wouldn't have ever seen even at campaign rallies, except maybe in issues of The National Enquirer: an obese female trucker, lower-middle class unemployed's, gays and lesbians in a small town, and, my favorite "dykes on bikes".

They learn that there's more to the working lower middle-class than meets the eye but again, it's kind of too obvious for its own good. Inter-spliced with this supposedly "deep" message is a lot of goofy bits. For example, they meet an Elvis impersonator about to board a costume-party train (rings a bit like scenes from "Trading Places"), and he assumes they're actors or impersonators dressed like recent US presidents. In another moment, their car is skewered by a "Jack in the Box" statue at a fast food stop while on the road.

The biggest problem is the film tries to be goofy yet somehow poignant, but it can't make up it's mind as to which road it wants to take. "Primary Colors", a far superior film to "My Fellow Americans" found an excellent balance between comedy and its darker message. In places "Primary Colors" was very funny, but the humor derived from scenes in which real politicians could be imagined engaging in outrageous behavior, such as when John Travolta as Governor Stanton throws his cell phone out of their car and they have to find it in the shrubbery. By contrast, many scenes in "My Fellow Americans" were too outrageous to be believed. The end up in a small town among a gay pride parade, hiding from their would-be assassins. The locals mistakenly believe the two presidents are "coming out". Seems like it would have been easy to go to the local authorities and contact the FBI or Secret Service! However they never seem to be able to acquire any assistance from anyone in Washington while on the road, and the baddies easily find them. One scene I did like was when they finally reach President Kramer's library, and there's a cut-out standing board with Lemmon as a young actor in uniform, supposedly when Kramer was a Second World War soldier.

A decent one-watch but unfortunately a comedy which had much more potential than it realizes. The characters end up appreciating they are "both Americans". Oh brother. The espionage part is kind of interesting, but the road aspect seemed to be long strings of contrived set-up's for crazy comedic moments which were very forced. What silly thing is going to happen to them next? The two leads, Jack Lemmon and James Garner who are heavy-hitting dramatic-comedic talents make it work. In lesser hands it would have been more like a prolonged Saturday Night Live sketch. However, their characters' supposedly rivalry look more like Superman and Batman. The Donald Trump-Hillary Clinton rivalry of the last election ring more of Eleanor Roosevelt versus Dracula.


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