Plot: Nelson Hibbert (Dave Foley) is as mad as hell and he’s not gonna take it anymore, as he’s been passed over once too often at the office. The dim executive has just been turned down for yet another promotion, but this time, he plans to exact some revenge and unleash some insults. But when he storms into the office to launch a tirade, he discovers the man is dead and with a knife stuck in his flesh, its obvious it wasn’t an accident. Of course, Hibbert knows he would be a prime suspect, so he rushes out of the office, out of the building, and goes on the run. But the office security cameras taped the entire crime and the killer’s identity is known, so Hibbert is never a suspect. But he has no idea that is the case, so he stays on the run and even crosses paths with the real murderer while trying to stay ahead of capture.
Entertainment Value: This movie was released with little fanfare and has remained a lower profile picture, but I think The Wrong Guy is a lot of fun and deserves a wider audience. The narrative is a familiar one, as a man believes he will be arrested for a murder he didn’t commit, but this version throws in some monkey wrenches that keep it fresh. The central twist is while Nelson is desperate to avoid capture, no one thinks he was involved, which opens a lot of potential doors. Nelson is a naive, clueless idiot, but the movie itself is quite smart and even brilliant at times, with a blend of obvious jokes and more esoteric touches. This leads to pure silliness, pratfalls, sharp dialogue, and flashes of comedic genius, all wrapped in the narrative about this buffoon and his delusions of grandeur. But Nelson remains likable throughout, even when he does the most outlandish and nonsensical things to survive. The story moves at a brisk pace and has a consistent flow of humor as well, so The Wrong Guy never feels slow or overstays its welcome. I can see why some might not appreciate the often offbeat sense of humor, but I always have a lot of fun with this one.
This is a rare lead role for Dave Foley, who is more often used in supporting roles to spice up a cast and or add some comedic presence. I think he is more than capable of lead roles in comedic pictures and he proves that here, nailing the dim, likable role and carrying the movie well. He is so perfect at seeming totally oblivious, but it feels so natural and not an over the top, Dumb and Dumber style idiot. That’s not to say his performance is grounded, as he does and says some outlandish things, but the turn isn’t as slapstick as you might think. He plays it straight and that makes things even more ludicrous and of course, even more hilarious. Colm Feore plays the actual killer, while Jennifer Tilly has a fun role as a potential love interest for Nelson, which is as awkward as you’d expect. The cast also includes Enrico Colantoni, Joe Flaherty, and David Anthony Higgins in prominent roles.