Moon Over Parador [1988]

This underrated film by director Paul Mazursky stars Richard Dreyfuss as an underemployed actor who is offered a great acting role, though outside of New York. Still, beggars can't be choosers and he accepts--only to discover that the part involves impersonating the dictator of Parador, a troubled Central American country on the verge of revolution. The dictator has died, but his chief adviser (Raul Julia) doesn't want that news to come out; he'd rather continue the charade that the big guy is still in charge. And to his surprise, the actor discovers that he enjoys the acting challenge, until he figures out that Julia is positioning himself to take over as the country's true strongman. Naturally, Dreyfuss also discovers that, aside from enjoying the perks of power (including the late dictator's toothsome mistress, Sonia Braga), he actually has the power to do some good--to Julia's chagrin. Dreyfuss captures the actor's insecurity, while Julia is hilarious as the wild-eyed adviser to whom torture is second nature. --Marshall Fine

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