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Film / Moon over Parador

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Moon over Parador is a 1988 romantic comedy film directed by Paul Mazursky, starring Richard Dreyfuss, Raúl Juliá, Sônia Braga, and Dana Delany.

Jack Noah (Dreyfuss) is an actor filming in the small, fictional South American nation of Parador when Alfonse Simms, the country's dictatorial president, suddenly dies of a heart attack. Not wanting to lose his position in power, the president's right-hand man, Roberto Strausmann (Julia) forces Jack to take the 'role of a lifetime': that of the dead president, as the two men look so much alike. Jack accepts, eventually winning over the people and even the dead president's mistress (Braga). However, it isn't long before Jack needs to find a way to get out while keeping Roberto out of the loop.

This film contains examples of:

  • Affably Evil:
    • Roberto Straussman is a genuinely gracious host...but still a ruthless advisor who forces Jack to play a dictator under the threat of death.
    • Simms is a generally friendly man for a cruel despot.
  • The Alcoholic: Simms. It leads to him suffering a heart attack.
  • Appeal to Flattery: When Jack tries to get out of impersonating Simms, and says it would be impossible, Roberto responds by reading some of the good notices Jack received for his previous work.
  • Banana Republic: Parador is your typical backwards, authoritarian-ruled tropical country.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Jack's friend Ralph is secretly a ruthless CIA agent who furiously denounces the State Department as wimps.
  • The Cameo: Sammy Davis Jr. appears animating a holiday in Parador.
  • Celebrity Impersonator: Basically the entire premise. A stage actor is recruited to portray a recently deceased dictator of a Latin American Banana Republic.
  • Commissar Cap: One is part of the regalia of Paradorian President-For-Life Alphonse Simms, though it's worn with a jaunty tilt that deflates its impressiveness.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: American actor Jack Noah is hired/forced to impersonate the recently-deceased dictator of a Banana Republic.
  • Dressed to Oppress: President-for-Life Alfonse Simms's regalia includes a greatcoat, baldric, and a Commissar Cap worn at a jaunty angle. After he passes on, Jack's task of impersonating him involves wearing this. Even when out jogging, his tracksuit is imprinted with a contrasting sash with the nation's seal.
  • Emergency Impersonation: Jack gets coerced into pretending to be Parador's dictator (whom he resembles and was already good at impersonating) when the latter unexpectedly dies.
  • Evil Chancellor: Roberto Strausmann, the chancellor of the deceased Alfonse Simms, is the one who came up with the plan to force Jack to take over as Simms so as to not lose his power.
  • Large Ham: Roberto Straussman.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Sônia Braga at her hottest.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: While a Generalissimo dictator ruling over a Latin American Banana Republic is generic enough, in this movie's case, having a dictator who is very unlike the stereotypical perception of Latino to the point of having a not-at-all-Hispanic-sounding name like Alphonse Simms calls to mind some real life dictators like Augusto Pinochet (Chile) and Alfredo Stroessner (Paraguay).
    • The fourteen families that control Parador, refer to the fourteen families that in reality controlled the Republic of El Salvador in the early 1970s.
  • Shout-Out: When Jack asks Roberto why he couldn't ask Robert De Niro or Dustin Hoffman to impersonate Simms, Roberto admits they weren't available, and he would have given his right arm to work with either of them.
  • To the Tune of...: As the new president, Jack changes the national anthem to "Parador, te amo" ("I love you, Parador"), which goes to the tune of "Bésame Mucho". Sammy Davis, Jr. sings it. The previous Paradorian national anthem ("O Parador") is sung to the tune of "O Christmas Tree".
  • Waxing Lyrical: During a scene where Jack has to address the crowd as the Paradorian President, he ad-libs his lines and uses the lyrics of "The Impossible Dream" from Man of La Mancha.