The film centers around African-American playwright Andrew Sterling (Jackson), who buys a vacation house on an otherwise all-white island. When the neighbors see him setting up his stereo system and mistakenly assume he's stealing it, they call the cops, who (non-lethally) open fire when he walks out to shut off his car alarm just as they arrive. Realizing their mistake, Police Chief Cecil Tolliver (Dabney Coleman) plans a cover-up over this embarrassing snafu by employing prisoner Amos Odell (Cage) to pretend he's taken Sterling hostage. Hilarity allegedly ensues.
Despite the similar title, the film has nothing to do with the old radio and TV show Amos 'n' Andy.
This film contains examples of:
- An Aesop: This film makes points about racism that apply both to white and black people, with whites shouldn't assume blacks are always doing something illegal and blacks shouldn't feel oppressed just because things don't go their way.
- Alliterative Title: Amos And Andrew
- Angry Black Man: Andrew, though it's a given considering the actor who plays him, but in this cases, he's more subdued, though he does have his moments. When he first meets Amos, he believes he's an assassin sent to kill him after writing about his views on "White America". Though by the end of the film, he gets less angry and thinks of Amos as a friend.
- Berserk Button: Amos does not take kindly to the hostage negotiator calling him a liar. Justified as Amos was lied to by Chief Tolliver.
- Bond One-Liner: Andrew gets one after giving Tolliver a Non-Lethal K.O. with a frying pan: "Nigger that!"
- Comically Missing the Point: When Andrew talks about his accomplishments to Amos:Andrew Sterling: Maybe you've heard of the Pultizer Prize.
Amos Odell: You won that?Andrew Sterling: I did.Amos Odell: How much you win?
- Dirty Cop: Chief Tolliver promises Amos freedom if he pretends to be a robber holding Andrew hostage, keeping this low profile, in exchange for freedom. He has no intention of keeping his promise, instead putting Amos's face and name on the news. He doesn't even care for Andrew's safety; he's just here to cover-up the embarrassing snafu as he needs good publicity for his mayor campaign.
- Exit, Pursued by a Bear: Or in Chief Tolliver's case, pursued by the two bloodhounds he originally used to find Andrew.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Tolliver makes use of two bloodhounds to find Andrew. But he turns the tables by giving the dogs Tolliver's scent (via his wallet Amos takes), and they chase him off.
- Hostage Situation: Amos turns this into one after Tolliver reveals his true intentions, first with Andrew, then with the neighbors who thought Andrew was the criminal.
- Laser-Guided Karma: After Amos and Andrew make their escape, the press got ab interview tape revealing Tolliver's true intentions while being interviewed. On top of this, he gets chased off by the same bloodhounds he had sicced to find Andrew.
- Name and Name: "Amos and Andrew".
- No Sense of Direction: Amos, who wanted to go to Canada, ends up at the island instead. Also at the end, when he drives to Canada, he heads towards the wrong direction.
- Oh, Crap!: Chief Tolliver's reaction when he realizes the freelance reporter recovered the tape where he reveals his true self and there's nothing he can do with so many witnesses around. He also realizes the bloodhounds are going after him.
- One Phone Call: In the beginning of the film, Amos uses this and attempts to call in a pizza. The officers were not amused and put him back to his cell.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: Chief Tolliver is only in it to avoid bad publicity and doesn't care about Andrew's safety at all. In fact, he doesn't even want him living on the island. He even goes as far as calling him a "nigger". After recovering from getting knocked out with the frying pan, he intends to charge Andrew for assault.
- Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: Amos assures Andrew that they're on the same side: "You and me, Amos and Andrew." Andrew, recognizing the Shout-Out, begs him not to put their names together like that. Amos doesn't get the reference.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: When Amos wants to escape with Andrew and tells him they're on the run from the law, Andrew tells him:Andrew Sterling: Gangsters? Outlaws? You're a nickel-and-dime criminal, a petty crook. And you to figure out very quickly where it is you think you're going. Because let me tell you, white boy, you are definitely headed in the wrong direction. I've had enough of this. I'm going home.
- To which Amos retorts:Amos Odell: Oh, yeah? What about you? You think the whole world is against you because you're black. Something don't go your way, it's because you're black. They're out of beer at the supermarket, it's because you're black. It rains and you get wet, it's because you're a black man. You saw for yourself there ain't no conspiracy here, no plot to get you off the island, nobody trying to assassinate you. That's all just as crazy thinking that everybody with black skin is your brother.Andrew Sterling: What do you know about black skin?Amos Odell: I know for all your talk, you're about the whitest damn black man I ever met. (cue fight between the two)
- To which Amos retorts:
- Salt and Pepper: The titular duo: Amos is a criminal who's been in prison, while Andrew is a Pulitzer-Prize winning playwright.
- Scary Black Man: The two neighbors of Andrew thinks he is this, not aware he's the new owner of the home.
- Shoot Him! He Has a... Wallet!: The cops mistaken Andrew's car keys for a gun and when he attempts to turn off his car alarm, they begin firing.
- Shout-Out: The title is a reference to Amos 'n' Andy, a popular (though now Values Dissonance-laden) duo of Blackface comedians.
- Skewed Priorities: While being one of the hostages, Phil Gillman is concerned with the fact his surname was written with just one 'l' at the interview tape's label.
- Sleazy Politician: Chief Tolliver is running for mayor and since he's just doing what he can to avoid bad publicity.
- The Stinger: The owner of the two bloodhounds chase after his dogs when he loses control and run rampant across a wheat field.
- Theme Tune Rap: "Suburbian Nightmare" by Sir Mix-A-Lot, in which the lyrics rap about the plot of the film.
- Title Drop: Amos says "Look. I'm not holding you hostage anymore, okay? But you got to know, we're in this together now, right? You and me. Amos and Andrew. Let's go."