The American President (1995)
April 11, 2010
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If only Obama was as cool as Michael Douglas.
Widowed U.S. president Andrew Shepherd (Michael Douglas), one of the world’s most powerful men, can have anything he wants — and what he covets most is Sydney Ellen Wade (Annette Bening), a Washington lobbyist. But Shepherd’s attempts at courting her spark wild rumors and decimate his approval ratings in this romantic comedy. Rob Reiner directs, and Michael J. Fox and Martin Sheen co-star.
The reviewers who moan that this is a liberal propaganda movie have missed the point, plain and simple. This is a story of romance in the White House, a unique theme which is a new and fresh idea. The politics were a backdrop and used to keep the movie moving.
The writing here is smart and very good. Its funny without making itself too funny, so you don’t take it seriously. There are still plenty of moments where this film actually takes an idea that was big in politics during the 90s and sets it in this film, and it works so well here. The comedic timing this film has makes sure it balances out a great deal of smart comedy but also important ideals about politics that were going on at the time.
This movie effectively shows the human side of a president. There is no political pretense or agenda, this is and old fashion pure charmer that wins with clever script, great acting and likable characters. And most of this has to go the performances from its wonderful cast. Douglas is starting to grow on me a bit, even though he is basically playing the same one he always does but the charm works well here cause he still has a side that even the president you wouldn’t think had. Annette Bening is even better playing Wade with the great comedic timing but also wonderful sense of realism that leading ladies like Diane Keaton and Jodie Foster all go for, and she does that plus a lot more. Their chemistry in this film builds over time and it feels real and you could actually see these two together in office.
The problem I had with the film was that its satire that the film looked for didn’t hit the marker so well like it could have. I think the film was trying to poke fun at George Bush when he was in the office, and how politics have changed into being more controversial than real, was a little stretching its boundaries. Also, the Richard Dreyfuss character was just stupid cause he only played this bad guy that was one-note the whole time and barely ever changed at all during the movie.
Consensus: The American President doesn’t succeed with its satire and patronizing, but still is written and directed in an old fashioned way that its new and fresh, while Douglas and Bening give out a believable chemistry between the two.