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Film: The Wrong Guy

A 1997 comedy film starring Dave Foley, Jennifer Tilly, David Anthony Higgins and Colm Feore.

Nelson Hibbert (Foley) is a slightly obnoxious executive who will do anything he can to get to the top. His boss is just about to announce the new president of the company, and Nelson thinks it's going be himself. Of course, it's not, and Nelson ends up yelling death threats at his boss while being dragged away by security. And, to make matters worse, a few minutes later Nelson's boss is murdered, and Nelson is the first one to discover the body. The police already know who the real killer is, and it's not Nelson. However, the extremely paranoid Nelson does not know this, and, fearing that he will be framed, goes on the run. Hilarity Ensues as Nelson frequently crosses paths with both the cops and the real killer at the worst times possible.

Unfortunately, the film only received a theatrical release in Canada, and it was only released direct-to-video in the U.S. Thus, not many people have seen it. However, it's well worth tracking it down.

This film contains examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: Nelson is constantly mistaken for a woman, a role David Foley played frequently (and convincingly) on The Kids in the Hall.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: How the killer escapes the scene of Nelson's boss's murder. His escape is caught on security cameras, and Detective Arlen makes a point to mention how impressive his escape was to other people.
    Cop: [The killer] did this somersault thing onto my squad car.
    Detective Arlen: Yeah, he's good alright. I've seen him pull himself up into an air duct.
  • Asshole Victim: Nelson's boss really had it coming.
  • Bad Cop/Incompetent Cop: Of the two cops assigned to finding Nagel's murderer, one uses the investigation as a thin excuse to eat at restaurants, visit strip clubs, see a Moby concert, etc., and the other seems to believe this will genuinely help.
  • Bad Liar: Nelson.
  • Better Manhandle the Murder Weapon: Nelson not only takes the knife out of Nagel's body, he hangs on to it, brandishes it as he walks through the building, drops in in the elevator and has it handed back to him by another passenger, and when he finally tries to get rid of it by throwing it off a bridge, it lands directly on a police boat.
    Fred Holden: Nelson, set these people straight. You're not a killer, are you?
    Nelson: A killer? No! No, no, no, no, no. I'm an alleged killer. And yes, I did threaten the man and my prints were all over the murder weapon, but that's just 'cause I pulled it out of his skull! [mimes]
  • Big "WHAT?!":
    Nagel: The new president of Nagel Industries is — big surprise! — Ken Daly.
    Nelson: WHAT?
    Nagel: Pardon?
    Nelson: What did you just say?
    Nagel: Ken is the new president.
    Nelson: WHAT?
    Nagel: I don't know how to say it any more clearly. Ken is the new president.
    Nelson: Somebody else say something.
    Some guy: Hibbert, you're making an ass of yourself.
    Nelson: Okay, I can hear, I just can't believe WHAT I am hearing.
  • The Cameo:
    • Dave Foley's fellow Kid in the Hall Kevin McDonald shows up as a motel clerk.
    • Director David Steinberg is the hospital patient whose newspaper Nelson tries to steal for a Newspaper Thin Disguise.
  • Climbing Climax: Parodied. It takes place at a miniature-golf course full of replicas of American landmarks, and the killer takes Nelson and Lynn hostage at the top of the Statue of Liberty, which is just a big plywood head. When he (inevitably) falls to the ground, he only groans and complains, "I fell on my keys."
  • Coincidental Accidental Disguise: Upon escaping the bank, Nelson, in his old-timey uniform, is immediately offered a ride on a bus headed for a barbershop-quartet convention. A second later, a bus going to the "Emotionally Disturbed Veterans' Retreat" stops for the killer, who is of course dressed accordingly.
  • The Ditz: Nelson... is not the brightest of men.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The killer remarks that he'd never marry someone just to further his career. Nelson objects, "Hey, you don't know what it's like out there!"
  • The Food Poisoning Incident: Happens to Nelson twice, once when he happily eats some strange berries and a large mushroom he finds in the woods, and more understandably when he hides in a freight car full of canned hams that turn out to be tainted.
  • The Ghost: Constance, Nelson's fiancee. He calls her twice to update her on events, including that he's fallen in love with another woman, but we never see or hear her..
  • I Lied: Nagel's explanation when Nelson points out that he told him he was going to be the next president of the company.
  • Inelegant Blubbering: Nelson after finding out he's been passed over. He's unknowingly leaning on the intercom, and his coworkers gather around it to laugh.
  • It May Help You on Your Quest: Parodied. Nelson believes that two teabags and a sheet of wax paper will help him later, but when the right time comes, he has no idea what to do with them.
  • It's a Small World After All
  • Line-of-Sight Name: Nelson wakes up in a hospital; believing he's a wanted man, he needs a fake name. So he tries "Enemabag Jones". When the doctor isn't convinced he tries again, reading "Dr. Helen Harris" off her nametag. Later, when he meets Lynn, he gives up and just tells her his real name.
  • Local Angle: Farmer Brown owns the town newspaper, so uses Nelson's fugitive status to cause a run on the bank. When one of the angry citizens produces a copy of the paper, the front-page headlines read "Teller Is a Cold-Blooded Murderer" and "Run on Bank Planned for Later Today."
  • Lovable Coward: Nelson.
  • Master of Disguise: Played for laughs with the murderer, who has an endless supply of disguises and goes through them at an unnecessary rate.
  • Mexican Standoff: Neatly explained by the killer:
    Cop: Freeze! Put down your weapon.
    Killer: No. You put down yours, or I put a hole through this guy's [Nelson's] head.
    Cop: Well. Looks like we've got ourselves a Mexican standoff.
    Killer: Not really. A Mexican standoff is where no one has an advantage. In this case, I could use this guy as a shield, kill you, and then kill him anyway.
    [beat]
    Cop: My mistake. What if I put down my gun, walk away, and you don't kill me? [lays down gun, raises hands] What's that called?
    Killer: That's called you're a stinking yellow coward.
    Cop: Stinking yellow coward. Works for me. [runs]
  • Miscarriage of Justice: Subverted; Nelson, having discovered the body and, through a convoluted series of mishaps, ended up being covered in his boss's blood, flees because he's convinced this is going to happen. The police, however, have ample amounts of evidence that point to the real killer and are not interested in him in the slightest.
  • Mistaken for Badass: Nelson by the killer, because of the way he keeps turning up right on his trail, like some kind of "supercop." Not by anyone else, though.
    Fred Holden: The Nelson Hibbert I know is incapable of murder! Not morally, but physically.
  • No Big Deal: No matter how conspicuous Nelson makes himself by acting as guilty as humanly possible, other characters never react beyond giving him strange looks.
  • No Name Given: The real killer.
  • Noodle Implements: Nelson is told its possible to kill someone with only two teabags and some wax paper. When attacked by the villain he waves these items around in the air since he has no idea how it's supposed to work.
  • Obviously Evil: Farmer Brown.
    Officer Arlen: So you're sure the murderer is in that bank?
    Brown: Most definitely. Nyahahahaha!
    Arlen: Why are you laughing like that?
    Brown: Like what?
    Arlen: You know. Weird. Creepy.
    Brown: It's uh allergies.
  • Overly Long Gag: Nelson discovering his boss's dead body is essentially 3 minutes of Dave Foley screaming and trying to wipe his boss's blood off himself. Another Overly-Long Gag: Nelson trying to check into the motel.
  • Run for the Border
  • Running Gag: A lot of people think that Nelson is a woman. Also, Detective Arlen wants nothing to do with catching the killer, and is constantly using the police's funding of his case to his advantage.
  • Saving the Orphanage: Inverted. The small town where Lynn and her father live is under the thumb of the greedy Farmer Brown, who wants to demolish their bank and replace it with a cornfield. We see him on the phone with someone at one point, saying, "I don't care if that strip mall's been in your family for generations. Soon it'll be a pasture for dairy cattle, and there's nothing you can do about it."
  • Tap on the Head: The killer knocks Nelson out with the butt of his gun and carries him part of the way into the miniature-golf course. When he notices that Nelson has woken up, he's indignant. Nelson innocently protests that he thought the killer wanted to carry him.
  • That Poor Car: Parodied. Lynn, during a narcoleptic episode, crashes the stolen catering truck into a van carrying a load of car alarms.
  • Torches and Pitchforks: To bring down the bank, Farmer Brown runs an article in his newspaper accusing Nelson (currently working as a teller) of killing Nagel, with this result. Lynn's father tries Shaming the Mob with a speech straight out of It's a Wonderful Life, to no avail.
    "Everybody, look! The money from this bank is in the town! Now you're not going to risk it all on the basis of one stupid rumor?"
    "Yes, we are!"
  • The Unfavorite: Nelson thought he was a lock for the promotion as he's engaged to the boss' daughter. It turns out the guy who got it is engaged to the boss' favorite daughter.
  • Unpronounceable Alias: Whatever Nelson scribbles in the motel sign-in book. Kevin McDonald comes around the desk to help him read it out loud.
  • Who Shot JFK?: The insane man who picks up the hitchhiking Nelson believes that "Kennedy's head just did that". He calls it "The No-Bullet Theory".

Warriors of VirtueFilms of the 1990sZeus and Roxanne

alternative title(s): The Wrong Guy
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