There are times when a movie can hit you at just the right angle or at the best possible moment, so that you ignore that film’s flaws and get caught up in its inherent movie-ish magic. Amos & Andrew was exactly that sort of film for me.
Under normal circumstances, I’m sure I would be currently deriding the film for the inconceivable absurdities and implausible conincedences. Here’s the set-up: world renowned black author Andrew Sterling (Samuel L. Jackson) moves into tha sleepy island town, a couple of the town’s white residents mistake him for a burglar and call the police. “When you see a black man carrying stereo equipment,” one of them tells a television reporter, “you know what’s going on.” So yes, the movie does hinge on racism to get the story going. And likewise, the movie has some ultimately lame moral about how racism is bad. Gotcha.
But really, aside from setting the gears in motion, Amos & Andrew doesn’t really do much with the race card other than coming to the cop-out moral conclusion at the end. For most of the movie, it’s just a series of wacky hijinks that depend too much on the improbable, like shooting deus ex machinas in a barrel.
When a cop played by Brad Dourif (the voice of Child’s Play‘s Chucky!) accidentally begins a firefight at Sterling’s home, the chief of police knows what to do to cover himself from any blame. That’s right, release a prisoner at the town’s jail, Amos (Nicolas Cage) and tell him you’ll free him if he pretends to take Sterling hostage so that the cops can end up looking like the good guys.
Of course Amos & Andrew end up as friends, sort of, by the end of the movie. There’s a ten minute stretch or so in the movie’s midsection where they trade monologues about how hard their lives have been like expert swordsmen. They eventually realize what the police chief is up to and half-heartedly work together to make him look like a fool and to prove that black folks ain’t all that bad. Congrats, they achieve both goals!
As I said, it’s all pretty ridiculous.
But if you can get past the ham-fisted moral, most of the jokes are simple and light-hearted. Jackson and Cage never really have any sort of chemistry together, but they’re both enjoyable enough actors on their own that they can keep you enthralled.
Amos & Andrew is ultimately silly and forgettable, a perfectly harmless late-night snack sort of comedy. Nothing really filling here, but it’s not going to rot your teeth, either.