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Film / Splitting Heirs

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In this 1993 British comedy written by Eric Idle of Monty Python fame, Tommy Patel (Idle) is an average man living in West London with a Hindi family. An American by the name of Henry Martin (Rick Moranis) visits from New York and he and Tommy have a night on the town, leading to Tommy's firing. Shortly thereafter, Henry inherits a noble estate and title, and hires Tommy.

After attending the former Duke's funeral, Tommy learns from Mrs. Patel that he was adopted after accidentally being left behind in a restaurant as a baby, begins to expect that he's the rightful Duke.


Tommy searches for evidence to prove his birthright and has an affair with a beautiful model named Kitty (Catherine Zeta-Jones). When Tommy finds out that Kitty is Henry's fiancée, Tommy attempts to do away with Henry in order to claim his rightful position as the 15th Duke, causing hilarity to ensue in the process!

Provides Examples Of:

  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Henry might have shades of this, considering that he is often seen on roller-skates, and he wasn't aware of Tommy's attempts at killing him.
  • Ethical Slut: Henry's fiancée (and later in the movie, wife) Kitty, as she says that "sex before marriage is exciting" after having an affair with Tommy. Since Kitty's aware that Tommy was trying to kill Henry, she tells Tommy that she's pregnant with his (actually Henry's) baby to keep her husband safe.
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  • Everything's Louder with Bagpipes: Tommy's clumsy attempt to establish an alibi by drawing attention to his presence on a train back to England from France, includes playing La Marseillaise on the bagpipes.
  • The Fool: Henry, at times.
  • Head-Tiltingly Kinky: Henry's reaction to the striptease dance at his stag night.
  • Helium Speech: On Tommy's 4th on-screen attempt to get Henry out of the way, he puts helium in Henry's scuba tank, making the latter speak in a squeaky voice.
  • Hippie Name: Tommy's birth name is Thomas Henry Butterfly Rainbow Peace Martin. Keep in mind he was born in The '60s.
  • Karma Houdini: Shadgrind (John Cleese), who causes the deaths of several bystanders in an attempt to bump Henry off almost gets his comeuppance when an escaped cougar lunges at him as he's escaping. However before he can be maimed, he is inexplicably saved by some French bicyclists in an upside down car. The epilogue then states how he became a Hollywood producer.
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  • My God, What Have I Done?: When Tommy believes he's finally killed Henry. It turns out that Henry survived, but the guilt of the moment causes Tommy to abandon his murder schemes.
  • Never My Fault: Near the end of the movie, Tommy's birth mother, who has been chasing him throughout, discovers his identity, then slaps him and accuses him of "trying to seduce your mother", when it was clearly the other way around.
  • Oblivious Adoption
  • Pun-Based Title
  • Really Gets Around: Tommy's birth mother shows interest in any man, including her own son, a la Back to the Future, until the truth comes out.
  • Rollerblade Good: Henry.
  • Switched at Birth: Averted as Tommy and Henry were at least a few weeks old when they were switched.
  • Would Hurt a Child: After Henry and Kitty's infant son is born, Shadgrind places a bomb in the baby carriage in an attempt to kill the child, but it killed the nanny instead.


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