Jonathan Lynn

Another seemingly average but competent director who makes mostly inoffensive comedies, some funnier than others.

Greedy: Kirk Douglas is rich and dying and his family and friends (Michael J. Fox, Nancy Travis, Olivia d’Abo, Phil Hartman, Ed Begley Jr.) are trying to get into his good graces. Of course he recognizes this and has something up his sleeve. Douglas is easily the highlight here, but this is pretty by the numbers and not as funny as it could have been.

Grade: C-

Trial and Error: Jeff Daniels is defending Rip Torn in a class action suit but he gets so hammered the day before trial he can’t make it. Rather than ask for a continuance or anything remotely logical, he sends in his actor friend Michael Richards to take his place, coaching him along the way. Meanwhile, Daniels starts a romance with Charlize Theron. Better than it has any right to be, with some genuinely funny moments and an engaging cast.

Grade: C

The Distinguished Gentleman: Eddie Murphy plays a con-man who gets elected to Congress as kind of a joke, but then when he gets there he takes exception to how easily influenced his colleagues are by lobbyists and begins to make changes. Predictable and as a political lesson is not to be taken seriously. Murphy was still charming in 1992 which helps keep this watchable.

Grade: C+

Clue: Six guests (based on their board game characters) at a strange house must unravel a murder mystery. Appropriately plays the premise for slapstick and parody. Sometimes a bit contrived, but it’s forgiven considering its comedic nature. Tim Curry is brilliant, while the supporting cast puts in some good performances as well, notably Christopher Lloyd and Madeline Kahn. When this was release in theaters, viewers had a chance of seeing one of three separate endings. Talk about a wonderfully fun and manipulative marketing ploy. These days, of course, one can see all three endings simultaneously. Guessing the killer is fun but the modi operandi are so preposterous that it’s mostly just for fun.

Grade: B-

My Cousin Vinny: Joe Pesci helps his cousin, falsely accused of murder in a small town, by defending him in his first case as a lawyer. He’s mostly clueless on even the most basic aspects of law and courtroom etiquette, but with the help of his fiancee Marisa Tomei, he uses his guile and desperation (if he wins, they’ll get married) to win over the jury. Pesci and Tomei are perfect together, and Pesci’s antics are hilarious to this day.

Grade: B

Other Jonathan Lynn Movies You May Have Seen

Nuns on the Run
Sgt. Bilko
The Whole Nine Yards
The Fighting Temptations
Wild Target

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One thought on “Jonathan Lynn

  1. I’ve seen all the movies you listed (plus The Whole Nine Yards) and can’t take issue with anything here. I’d possibly bump up Clue to B or B+ simply for acting and script, despite the movie somehow missing that…special…THING. Also, Lee Ving as Mr. Boddy is one of the performances you’ll see in a good movie. How do they screw that up when everyone else was so perfectly cast, from Curry to Colleen Camp? Lee Ving must have delivered his lines as poorly as his facial gestures, since his entire performance is ADR so I’m guessing that’s not even his voice.

    I remember nothing about The Whole Nine Yards, to the point that I’m wondering if I’ve seen it at all.

    Seeing Lynn’s work in one place really drives home how average he is. When I think “inoffensive comedy,” I think of nearly everything here.

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