My Fellow Americans

on December 20, 1996 by Kim Williamson
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   Of Showeast's 13 screenings, the surprise audience-applause winner was "My Fellow Americans," and aptly so. Although the film pauses a few moments to consider some blue-collar homilies (wisely, given its probable older-skewing mainstream audience), this comedy about two former presidents who hate each other but are forced to go on the lam together places its emphasis on providing laughs. Which it does, in sufficient abundance.
   The "Grumpy Old Presidents" scenario involves two voted-from-office Chief Executives, stingy Republican Russell Kramer (Jack Lemmon) and womanizing Democrat Matthew Douglas (James Garner), who find themselves the targets of an attempted frameup concocted by the current Prez (Dan Aykroyd), who hopes to shunt responsibility for a brewing kickback scandal onto Kramer's head. Next thing the crotchety chaps know, the helicopter in which they were supposed to continue traveling together on state business explodes. To prove Kramer's innocence and save their skins, the dueling duo head cross-country to where Kramer's presidential library has his official (and hopefully exonerating) papers. Along the way, giving "My Fellow Americans" its title and its theme, they encounter "real America" and its various denizens along the way.
   Moviegoers who loved Lemmon's two "Grumpy" pairings with Walter Matthau are most likely to appreciate the goings-on here, and Garner's customary charismatic turn will make even the grumpiest fans not miss Matthau's natural curmudgeonry. Although they have little to do, the key supporting cast members--including John Heard as a Don Quayle-like vice president and Lauren Bacall as Kramer's engagingly brassy wife--provide effective turns. Taking matters down a notch in this latest from director Peter Segal ("Tommy Boy") is a played-too-broad subplot involving the evil machinations of government operatives. Starring Jack Lemmon, James Garner, Dan Aykroyd and John Heard. Directed by Peter Segal. Written by E. Jack Kaplan & Richard Chapman and Peter Tolan. Produced by Jon Peters. A Warner Bros. release. Comedy. Rated PG-13 for salty language and innuendo. Running time: 101 min. Opens 12/20 wide; sneaked 12/8 on 900 screens with "Space Jam.
Tags: Starring Jack Lemmon, James Garner, Dan Aykroyd, John Heard. Directed by Peter Segal. Written by E. Jack Kaplan, Richard Chapman, Peter Tolan, Produced by Jon Peters, Warner Bros, Comedy
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