Nicolas Cage in: Amos & Andrew

Amos & Andrew

Released in 1993 ▪ Review posted January 12, 2014

“I don’t know whether what I’ve done is good or bad; I certainly haven’t made as much money as some of these guys. But I live in Paris, I have a view of the Eiffel Tower out my writing room window, and I can pretty much do what I want. So it can’t be all bad.”

E. Max Frye, director of Amos & Andrew

Following the success of his first screenplay, E. Max Frye, a graduate of the Tisch School of the Arts and one-time Austrian fashion model, got the chance to write and direct his own film. The subject he chose, out of all possible options, was race relations in America. He wrote it as a madcap comedy.

The resulting failure is Amos & Andrew. It’s among the most awkward yet captivating ninety minutes I’ve ever spent.

I’m not sure whether the failure was because of Frye having a massive unchecked ego, or if he surrounded himself with people who couldn’t give him honest answers. Maybe everyone involved just honestly thought it was funny? Whatever happened, this movie has something to shock and offend everyone.

Amos ’n’ Andy is part of America’s national shame, a classic example of blackface and the continued oppression of people of color. Just calling the movie Amos & Andrew approaches a clear boundary. Putting white actors like Brad Dourif in blackface more than once is even worse. If you’re going to do that, you’d better have a damn funny reason. Frye doesn’t. Throughout this movie we see an unarmed black man shot at, held hostage, treated like an object, and chased through a field by bloodhounds. It’s a disgrace.

As another example of how racist this movie is, the only place on the internet I could find a picture of Brad Dourif in blackface is a recently updated, vaguely white supremacist O. J. Simpson conspiracy theory blog here. It terrifies me to think this movie got made, and should be taken as proof that systemic racism is alive and well.

Not only is Amos & Andrew not funny, the acting is weak and boring. Nicolas Cage is too reined in. His character isn’t driven by anything, so he coasts through the plot as a bad guy with a decent heart. Like it or hate it, Raising Arizona at least gave Cage an interesting angle from which to approach being the exact same character. Even Samuel L. Jackson is robbed of all but one of his signature monologues where he slowly says every word until he is yelling! The last! Few! Words!

Amos & Andrew came out in 1993, an interesting time in Nic’s career. He’s no longer the hot young heartthrob, that part of his career having died a year before with Honeymoon in Vegas. He’s searching for what’s next. The first major peak of his career (Leaving Las Vegas followed by The Rock) is still two years away. Nic gravitates toward oddball comedies during this middle period, and Amos & Andrew is certainly oddball. Unfortunately it’s also unfunny, flaccid, and racist.

How was the movie?
How was Nic Cage’s acting?
Did his performance make the movie worse?
No, it was just super racist