True Identity (1991) – reviewed by George

This Touchstone (a division of Disney) comedy was supposed to introduce the very funny British comic Lenny Henry to American audiences. Unfortunately, with an estimated budget of 15 million dollars, the gross was only $4,693,236. I don’t know what opened the same weekend, but I think the real reason for the loss is that the film is just not very funny. Maybe it should have been marketed as an action picture.
The plot, briefly: as Federal agents surround the yacht of the crime kingpin Frankie Luchino, the boat explodes. Soon after, we meet the actor Miles Pope (Lenny Henry) and the arts philanthropist Leland Carver (Frank Langella), who is currently staging “Othello”. The two men, strangers, are returning to New York from Florida, sitting side-by-side, and the plane flies into extreme turbulence. As death seems really inevitable, Carver confesses that he is Frankie Luchino and what a joke for him to die now as a well-respected person in a plane crash, when the whole world thinks he is already dead.
Then they don’t crash.
So now Frankie has to have Miles killed, but Miles’s good buddy Duane (Charles Lane), who is a makeup man for film and stage, disguises him as a white man. Improbably, Miles ends up as the hitman assigned to kill himself.
It’s actually a pretty good movie. Just don’t believe the “comedy” classification and don’t expect to laugh much.
The rest of the major cast: J.T. Walsh plays Houston of the FBI, Peggy Lipton is Carver’s wife, Anne Marie Johnson is Miles’s girlfriend, Andreas Katsulas is another hitman, and Michael McKean plays Miles’s agent. Oh, and James Earl Jones appears as himself.
Written by Andy Breckman and directed by Charles Lane.

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