The Distinguished Gentleman
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Time Out saysMurphy makes a partial return to form as a con-artist in this Trading Places-style comedy. After Senator Jeff Johnson (Garner) dies while giving job satisfaction to his attractive female researcher, Thomas Jefferson Johnson (Murphy) shortens his name, lengthens his CV, and breezes into Congress on the strength of misplaced 'name recognition'. Once elected, abetted by a political wheeler-dealer (Smith) and a power lobbyist (Baker), he wastes no time in greasing the right palms, making the best social connections, and getting on to financially advantageous committees. The film's credibility takes a sudden dive, though, when Murphy, confronted by a young female constituent whose cancer may have been caused by her school's proximity to high-voltage power lines, instantly abandons avarice and cynicism. Lynn handles the set-ups and verbal fencing deftly, but there is only so much he can do with former political speech-writer Marty Kaplan's crass script, which aims at easy targets, lacks momentum, and ultimately fails to pay off.