The American President (1995)

A widowed Chief Executive starts dating again.  That's the decep-
tively straight-forward set-up of this crowd-pleasing romantic
comedy from director Rob Reiner (WHEN HARRY MET SALLY).  The new
girlfriend is Sydney Ellen Wade (Annette Bening), an environmental
lobbyist who finds herself flustered, and later charmed by
Democratic President Andrew Sheperd (Michael Douglas).  Together,
they fumble through the implications of White House dating, which
includes an upcoming election year and a series of ugly character
attacks from Senate Minority Leader Robert Rumson (Richard

As written by Aaron Sorkin, THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT is less about
politics than about two people falling in love under extraordinary
circumstances.  The story does, however, provide a fascinating,
behind-the-scenes glimpse into the daily activities of the Chief
Executive.  He's a very busy man, to say the least, and Sorkin has
characterized the "Clintonesque" President as a bit disconnected
from his personal life.  (His pampered lifestyle and constant
dashing away to a crisis reminds of a better-written Bruce Wayne.
I wonder how he would look in a rubber suit?)

The political issues are the least successful.**  A couple of plot-
points are downright confusing, the character of Bob Rumson is
never fully developed, and the big, Frank Capra finale falls a bit
flat.  No problem.  Reiner knows exactly what his assets are, and
so he places the greater weight on romance and comedy.  And what
comedy!  Sorkin has written some great lines, here.  A wicked
reference to the Carolinas is a howl.  As is the President's "none
of your damn business" phone call.  The closing line, though, which
I won't reveal here, is by far the best.  (All good movies should
end with such great lines.)

Sure, the story could be longer, with more substance to balance the
weaker political segments, but with both Douglas and Bening
virtually *glowing* in their roles, THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT delivers
the kind of old-fashioned, cornball romance that makes stepping
into these movies so very much fun.  Perfect chemistry between the
leads, as well as a crack supporting cast that includes Martin
Sheen and Michael J. Fox, more than compensates for any deficit
spending in the political arena.  Watch out at Oscar time.

Grade: A-

**- As are the morality issues.  The script makes quite a fuss
about "character" and "family values" and, yet, these two lovebirds
jump so quickly into the sack that you have wonder exactly *where*
Hollywood's logic center is residing, these days.  Sigh.  I guess
even the most old-fashioned of films can't be entirely old-

Copyright 1995 by Michael J. Legeros

Originally posted to triangle.movies

Home   |   Recommended   |   Reviews   |   Views   |   Letters   |   Links   |   FAQ   |   Search!

Please report problems to
Copyright 2001 by Michael J. Legeros -Movie Hell™ is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros