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‘Amos & Andrew’

By Desson Howe
Washington Post Staff Writer
March 05, 1993


E. Max Frye
Nicolas Cage;
Samuel L. Jackson;
Dabney Coleman;
Michael Lerner;
Margaret Colin;
Brad Dourif;
Chelcie Ross;
Giancarlo Esposito
Children under 13 should be accompanied by a parent

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Cigarette packs have government health warnings. CDs have parental advisory labels. Movies have ratings plus one other kind of warning: ampersands in the title. With few exceptions, you should consider "&" the equivalent of a skull and crossbones. Drink from such concoctions as "Tango & Cash" or "Turner & Hooch," and you may expect the following:

Two guys get thrown together. Sometimes it's two gals. Sometimes it's a guy and a dog. The emphasis is on "nutty" and "collision."

They're so different! One's rich, the other's poor. One's a hot dog, the other's by the book. Will these guys ever get along?

After bumping heads for the whole movie, they learn how to value each other's obnoxious qualities and anticipate the sequel.

Which never comes. God willing, there will be no follow-up to "Amos & Andrew," starring Nicholas Cage (he's Amos -- the white-trash prisoner) and Samuel L. Jackson (he's Andrew -- the black writer-celebrity). One plot-nutty day, Jackson, who recently moved into an exclusive white community, gets mistaken for a robber in his own home.

The police, led by sheriff and political aspirant Dabney Coleman, pin him down with a hail of bullets. When Jackson finally makes it into his house, the phone rings. It's the sheriff, trying to warn Jackson (who the sheriff thinks is the besieged white owner) that there's a gunman loose in his home. When Coleman realizes his embarrassing mistake, he makes a quick deal with Cage. If the prisoner steals into the house, fakes a Jackson kidnaping, then surrenders to the authorities, Coleman will have himself a "real" gunman to show Jackson. He also promises Cage an easy trip into Canada after the hullabaloo.

Cage goes for it, holding Jackson hostage and pretending to negotiate with the cops. But Cage starts to think he might not see Canada after the arrest, and Jackson figures out Coleman's face-saving game. Writer Andrew (don't say Andy) decides to help jailbird Amos make a beeline north. An opportunity to expose Coleman's treachery arises when they discover a conveniently incriminating videotape in which Coleman admits his early mistake.

Cage is a font of funny character weirdness. This movie marks the least of his offerings. Jackson, as the relative straight man, has little to work with. And Coleman, who can usually sew a comic silk purse out of a sow's ear, is left holding, well, a sow's ear. One thing's for sure about "Amos & Andrew": It ain't no "Thelma & Louise."

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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