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Critic's Pick

'The Distinguished Gentleman'

August 25, 1996|Kenneth Turan

In this 1992 film, Eddie Murphy (left) is right at home in the role of Florida con artist Thomas Jefferson Johnson. Johnson is the man behind television spots for a scam which is really an excuse for himself, his cousin Loretta (Sheryl Lee Ralph) and the rest of their amiable gang to fleece unsuspecting marks. Hiding from an outraged target at a posh political gathering, Johnson overhears a congressman and one of his supporters talk about the whole range of perfectly legal perks, both financial and otherwise, that being in the House seems to guarantee. The film then becomes a satirical expose of loopholes and malfeasance onto what has been to that point pretty much of a slapstick farce. Lane Smith (right) plays Murphy's mentor. (NBC Monday at 9 p.m.).

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