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Film / My Fellow Americans

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A 1996 American comedy film directed by Peter Segal, starring Jack Lemmon and James Garner. Also in the cast are Dan Aykroyd, John Heard, Wilford Brimley, and Lauren Bacall.

The film centers around two politically (and personally) opposed former Presidents of the United States, who are forced to go on the run together after they find themselves on the receiving end of a conspiracy to cover up the fact that the current President took a kickback.


The film provides examples of:

  • Accidental Kidnapping: When Kramer and Douglas plan on stealing Wayne and Genny's car to continue on their trip to Kramer's Library, they only turn back when they see a child in the backseat. The couple then gives them a ride, saying all they had to do was ask. It only comes out later when the two act like a pair of jerkasses that the family is homeless and desperate for work.
  • Appeal to Force: At one point, the fugitive ex-Presidents hitch a ride with some illegal aliens being smuggled across the border. They're discovered by both the INS (in ordinary police helicopters) and the Government Conspiracy (in military attack helicopters) at the same time. There's some Jurisdiction Friction between the two groups, which a conspiracy chopper deftly solves by firing a missile across the INS's nose.
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  • Artistic License – Politics: At the end of the movie, after President Haney resigns and former President Douglas reveals he recorded an incriminating conversation that will get Vice President Matthews thrown out of office Douglas states that under the 25th Amendment the Speaker of the House will become President. The 25th Amendment doesn't address that - it only addresses how the VP becomes President, how a President can appoint a new VP should there be a vacancy, and when the President is incapacitated or unable to discharge his duties. The Presidential Succession Act describes who becomes President if the President and Vice President die, resign or are removed.
  • Butch Lesbian: Douglas and Kramer hitch a ride with a gang of butch bikers.
    Kramer: After that ride, I'm changing my position on an important issue. The military could definitely use some of those gals.
  • Camp Gay: Secret Service Sniper Ralph Flemming manages to be this and Straight Gay. Basically he plays it up in a pride parade.
  • Catchphrase: Kramer's line that "dreams are like our children" which, by the time of Haney's term, everyone is sick of.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: When on the run, the Presidents encounter the person under Camp Gay/Straight Gay. He helps them catch a ride to their next destination and gives them a parting gift and this gift is how he later identifies them as the real Presidents and saves their lives.
  • Corrupt Politician: Haney. He got rich taking kickbacks while serving as Kramer's Vice President. Kramer and Douglas force him to resign as President when they find out. Also Vice President Matthews, who orchestrated everything so he could succeed Haney.
  • Curse Cut Short: The final words of the movie. Doubles as a Call-Back to a Running Gag.
    My Fellow Americans...
    You son of a bit-
  • Delusions of Eloquence: Matthews. Justified because, well, he is a Vice President (and he's clearly modeled after Dan Quayle). The ending reveals he's faking it to pull Obfuscating Stupidity... and then he unknowingly demonstrates it again while explaining this.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: Or rather, the idiot Vice President who can barely string two words together was behind it all.
  • The Dragon: While the film paints Agent Tanner as the Big Bad, he is later revealed to be VP Matthews' Dragon.
  • Gallows Humor: "...They're down."
  • Groin Attack: From riding a horse: "When this is over promise me we'll come back and look for my balls."
  • I Call Him "Mister Happy": Blinky, The First Penis.
  • Indy Ploy: "What am I, fuckin MacGyver? I'm makin this up as I go." note 
  • King Incognito: Kramer and Douglas do this both intentionally and unintentionally while on the run from the NSA. They're former Presidents of the United States, but very few people recognize them. One of the saddest moments in the movie is when Kramer can't afford a piece of pie he wants only for the diner's cook to give it to him out of pity because he thinks Kramer is just a run of the mill down on his luck old guy.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: Douglas is clearly modeled on Bill Clinton whereas Kramer is clearly modeled on George H. W. Bush.
  • No Party Given: Averted. Kramer, Haney, and Matthews are Republicans, while Douglas is a Democrat.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Matthews. Though still not the brightest bulb, he's nowhere near as moronic as his public persona.
    "Funny thing is everybody thinks I'm this big idiot, and its all a big facade." (While mispronouncing facade as "fəh-kade".)
  • Precision F-Strike:
    • Downplayed. The movie's one use of the F Word goes by so quickly that if you're not paying attention you might miss it.
    • Also discussed. "If you're gonna use the F-word, go for the gold."
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Douglas and Kramer, respectively.
  • The Scapegoat: Haney and his chief of staff try to frame Kramer for the kickbacks that Haney took as Vice President. Then Matthews frames Haney for the assassination attempts on Kramer and Douglas and the murder of Charlie Reynolds.
  • Steel Ear Drums: Averted. When Douglas fires a pistol in the cockpit of Marine One, everyone is promptly deafened and Kramer calls out how foolish it is to fire a gun in a confined area with no ear protection.
  • Teethclenched Teamwork: Douglas and Kramer work this way for most of the movie.
  • Torture Always Works: Twisted and double subverted. He never gets tortured, he cracks under the threat, which fulfills the same purpose. However there never was any torture, he wasn't about to be dosed up with drugs, the needle he felt was simply a sewing needle.
  • Vice President Who?: Matthews is really dumb (a No Celebrities Were Harmed mock version of Dan Quayle). This turns out to be partly Obfuscating Stupidity, as he is essentially the Big Bad.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: By the end of the film.
  • With Lyrics: Kramer and Douglas both came up with personal lyrics for "Hail to the Chief" just to deal with having to hear it so many times.
  • You Are Too Late: Subverted. At the end of the movie, Kramer and Douglas realize Matthews was the real mastermind and go to try and stop him taking office, only to find out Matthews has already been sworn in as President. While they seem to give up for awhile, it's implied they eventually revealed everything to the public since Matthews is last seen being sent to prison.