The American President (1995) Poster

User Reviews

Add a Review
219 ReviewsOrdered By: Helpfulness
The thinking woman's Pretty Woman
doll_face10 July 2003
I don't mean that as a slam. I like Pretty Woman a lot, too. But this movie is my "cure for all ills" movie. The one I throw in the DVD player on rainy Sunday afternoons and crack out my best junk food. And the political setting seems to give it more meat.

Michael Douglas is perfect. Annette Benning is perfect (and I would give anything to look as beautiful as she does in that blue dress at the State Dinner). Michael J. Fox, Martin Sheen, Anna Devoure Smith. People being passionate about each other and about important issues and about doing the right thing. Everything about this movie lifts me up when I'm feeling down.

I'm not a liberal, and I'm not a conservative - I fall somewhere in the middle. My beliefs in gun control to not include "(getting) the guns". But this movie is so good - that I can look past the occasional differences in political views. Those views are presented in a smart, thoughtful and constructive manner - and I appreciate them even though they are not my own.

I enjoy this movie for what it is - a sweet, smart, funny movie set in one of the most "romantic" settings in the world - The White House.
11 out of 13 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
Better than apple pie
werners25 May 2000
This Reiner flick is a gem of the nineties. In its genre probably the best thing to hit the screens since Capra rounded them up over half a century ago.

The story itself is nothing extraordinary. Set in Washington it is a simple tale of love between lobbyist Sidney Wade and widow President Andrew Sheperd. Flung into love they both encounter obstacles as both opposition and political differences tear them apart. No need to worry though, all is well that ends well. And Reiner is not the one to slip one on us.

What makes this film shine above most are not the development of characters or the underdeveloped political statements. Its the achievement of giving audiences 90 minutes of pure bliss. Douglas is lovable as president, Beattys spouse makes you jealous as always, J. Fox never misses an opportunity to display huge talent and Dreyfuss is just the kind of guy you love to hate. Add a dose of victorious political correctness and top it of with a final speech that raises the hair on any kinds of neck but rednecks, and you got your evening made.

Enjoy !
65 out of 99 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
9/10
Romantic, amusing, inspiring portrait of President's fish bowl life
roghache5 March 2006
This is a great feel good movie about a charismatic, essentially very decent, fictional U.S. President, played by Michael Douglas in an extremely likable role. It's a political story as well as a love story. Douglas is both commanding & assured in his presidential role and charming & endearing in his romantic role. If anyone has not yet seen this movie, you'll discover you're in for an unexpected treat. There's something here for everyone...romance, comedy, politics, and drama.

Andrew Shepherd is a youngish, popular President soon up for re election. Pressure is being put to bear on him to consolidate his administration's high poll ratings by pushing through a moderate crime bill which totally lacks Republican party support, yet is considered too weak by the Democrats. Meanwhile he finds himself attracted to Sydney Wade, an environmental lobbyist who is seeking legislation to reduce carbon monoxide emissions. Shepherd has been widowed for three years, and currently needs an escort for a State Dinner in honour of the President of France. He invites Sydney to this function and during this & subsequent encounters, the pair fall in love. Trouble ensues when Shepherd is torn between the politically expedient crime bill and the environmental legislation he has promised his new love interest.

In terms of romance, there is the ongoing love story between the widowed President and the young lobbyist, Sydney, charmingly played by Annette Benning. This lovely and intelligent lady is quite smitten but at first obviously a bit overwhelmed by it all, feeling awkward and uncertain as the President's date. Sydney looks absolutely radiant at the state ball as she is swept off her feet by this handsome leader of the free world. Their chemistry proves to be electric, the dialogue clever, and the potential sexual situations quite tasteful by modern standards. Naturally the course of true love never does run smooth so it goes without saying that additionally, this unusual fishbowl courtship would have some unique problems as politics and public opinion intrude upon the couple's personal life.

A certain built in comedy natural for a dating President makes this romance all the more enchanting. For instance, when Andrew attempts to buy his sweetheart some roses, can't you just imagine the national crisis that all but ensues? Despite his position as Head of State, Andrew likes to do his courting the old fashioned, personal way. During his initial phone call to Sydney, she believes he's one of her friends pulling a prank, which of course results in some hilarity.

Naturally this tale is ripe with politics, and some reviewers even claim that the film is something of a precursor to TV's West Wing. Shepherd faces the dilemma of being forced to choose between the crime bill that his party is after him to push, versus Sydney's particular environmental cause. Not only party politics, but there is waning public support to consider. Needless to say, the President has no lack of advisers around who are more than eager to state their views, giving at times unsolicited advice. Martin Sheen plays his Chief of Staff and Michael J. Fox is cast as his Domestic Policy adviser. Shepherd must also contend with mud slinging by a nasty, unscrupulous rival Senator (portrayed by Richard Dreyfuss), who calls into question both Shepherd's family values and his girlfriend's activist past. By the way, any liberal political bias presented in this movie proved totally inoffensive to me. I definitely didn't sense that the producers had a nefarious grand agenda here.

Drama wise, there's a touching, close relationship depicted between the President and his charming young teenage daughter, Lucy, and a definite sense of his loneliness following the death of his wife from cancer. Also, Shepherd is confronted with the choice of keeping his promise to Sydney versus salvaging his political career. His Oval Office moral dilemmas are not only relevant to the Presidency but can be extrapolated to any person in any career.

This film delivers a powerful message about both personal and presidential integrity. At one point there's a moving speech that is inspiring for anyone, but may give American viewers in particular cause for reflection about the real significance of their country's Presidency and the qualities they might want to look for in the person elected to that office. Personally, I was practically ready to start flying the Stars and Stripes and I'm not even American! Whatever the nation involved, pity we don't have more Andrew Shepherds in political life today.
32 out of 48 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
9/10
My name is Andrew Shepherd and I AM the president of the United States!
Dan Grant30 June 1999
Is there a genre that Rob Reiner can't work in and make successful? He captured comedy beautifully with The Sure Thing. Music was brilliant with This is Spinal Tap. Horror? How about Misery? Courtroom drama was awesome with A Few Good Men. And now we have a political drama/comedy. There is nothing this man can't do.

This movie works inspite of people's claims that it is too political. Well you know what, it's about the president of the United States of America, there's going to be a bit of poiltics in it. And guess what, guns do kill people, so to have an issue at hand here that deals with gun control is applaudable.

Okay, that's out of the way, let's talk about the film itself. Because it is wonderful. It is funny, well acted, and it is written with a good ear.

The cast in this film is one to be envied by almost everyone except Oliver Stone and Robert Altman who seem to get everyone to do their films. But here we have Douglas as the president, Sheen as his aid, Michael J. Fox, Samantha Mathis, Annette Bening as Sydney Ellen Wade and in my favourite performance, Richard Dreyfuss as the sniveling weasle Senator Bob Rumsen.

As the story goes, the president's character gets questioned when he ( a widow ) finds a girlfriend in Sydney Wade. The issues are handled wonderfully here. Nothing is really tip-toed around as the script writer ( Aaron Sorkin ) writes a brave script about what is right and wrong with being the president and having a girlfriend.

I personally liked the politics in the film. I enjoyed how Shepherd decides to ignore the critisism leveled at him until the very end when he gives one of the best written speeches I've ever seen in film. And when he flexes his authoritative muscles, you feel his power, you feel that the president has spoken. And I was moved. This is a great film and one that should be checked out for sure.

**** I also found it to be interesting that the character in the film that tries to get the issue of gun control brought to the forefront is Michael J. Fox. He is Canadian and we don't have problems with guns here. Is it a coincidence ( probably ) that he was chosen to play this role? Or was it done deliberately? Interesting.
49 out of 78 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Warm, fun film with a big heart
bob the moo15 February 2002
US President Andrew Shepherd is a widower who was sweep into power on the back of great public sympathy. Three years into his presidency he meets and falls for Sydney Ellen Wade, an environmental lobbyist. Eventually they begin to date against the counsel of his advisors, giving his rivals (most notably Senator Rumson) and the media the ammunition they need to begin to attack his presidency.

This is not exactely a political thriller. In fact it is as far removed from reality as you could imagine. However that's the point, this film doesn't pretend to be anything other than a romantic comedy - it has some political wranglings but it is very far from the (still very tidy and clean) rule of Martin Sheen's President in TV's The West Wing. However the story is nicely handled and Rob Reiner is natually very good at this type of thing. Here it occasionally is far too sickly sweet and sentimental, but most of it works well.

Douglas is good in the lead and looks quite acceptable as the President of the US - lets be honest, if it was him or "oil baron" Bush who would you pick? Bening is also good as Sydney but neither have anything outside of the usual romantic leads to do. The real strength here is the supporting cast - both in terms of class and sheer enterainment value.To name a few - Sheen, MJ Fox, Mathis, Dreyfuss - all big names, all funny performances.

Overall this is a big sloppy romantic comedy, but it's done with so much class that it's hard not to like it. Not brillant, but very enjoyable all the same.
34 out of 57 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
I love this film
Winnie-619 October 1998
This film sees the best acting from Michael Douglas (my God, he isn't a villain), Annette Bening (power woman), Michael J Fox (finally not a teen) and Martin Sheen (oh so amusing). This is such a warm film. It is innocent yet powerful. And the humour is second to none. Just fabulous.
43 out of 75 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
A First Rate Film
Matthew Kresal3 March 2009
Director Rob Reiner and Aaron Sorkin, fresh off their success with the film A Few Good Men, came up with this gem more then thirteen years ago. With a top notch cast and production values The American President is the continuation of an old Hollywood tradition of films where nobility wins out in the game of politics. While that might seem like a bad thing the fact is the film is all the better for it.

First off there's the cast. Michael Douglas gives one of his finest performances as President Andrew Shepherd. The same can be said of his love interest and co-star Annette Benning in her performance as lobbyist Sydney Ellen Wade. Together they have a strong chemistry whether it be the film's comedic, romantic or dramatic moments.

Then there's the supporting cast. Martin Sheen, Anna Deavere Smith, Samantha Mathis, David Paymer and Michael J. Fox give fantastic performances as the White House staff with Sheen and Fox in particular getting moments to shine. Richard Dreyfuss gives a delicious performance as Presidential contender Bob Rumson. Even in the small roles the actors (like Joshua Malina and John Mahoney) give good performances.

The film's production values are just as strong as its cast. The White House sets are excellent and give the feeling of being in the real place. The same can be said of virtually all the sets in the film. Also of special mention is the score by Marc Shaiman, especially in the opening credits of the film.

Then there is the script by Arraon Sorkin. Sorkin's effortlessly blends together the elements of a good romantic comedy and a good political based film to create a hybrid of the two. Unlike other attempts at mixing comedy/satire with a political film that often end up failing to be successful as either (such as the more recent film Man of the Year for instance) here it works. In one scene you can have a speech about something political and have a romantic comedy scene the next. The result is that the styles don't clash but rather compliment each other nicely. It's easy to see where the genesis of Sorkin's later magnum opus The West Wing came from.

The American President is a first rate film. With its top notch performances, excellent production values and a first rate script it's hard to beat that. The only shame of the film is the fact it didn't any major awards because it definitely deserved to.
16 out of 26 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
8/10
A warm, idealistic, romantic, and superb insider look at the American Presidency
secondtake16 January 2013
The American President (1995)

What a smart, fast, feel-good movie about American politics and the power of the presidency. And how unlikely (these thing don't usually go together).

What makes it work? Everything! I know deep down that this isn't a masterpiece, a Citizen Kane or Godfather kind of movie. But it is in its own way perfect. It's funny as can be--endlessly witty or sarcastic or actually cleverly funny. It's acted to a T, including of course the two leads, Michael Douglas in his alpha male with a personable side and Annette Bening in her utterly charming and disarmingly sharp warmth.

It's almost impossible to appreciate the huge list of side characters who are first rate through and through, even in their very brief roles. Richard Dreyfuss might be the least of these since he plays an obvious stereotype. Michael J. Fox is funny and quick and Martin Sheen is quasi-presidential as he needs to be since of course (via "West Wing") he later becomes the president.

But not here. This is the story of Douglas and Bening. It presages the excellent British version , in its own way, "Love Actually," with Hugh Grant and an equally big cast of excellent extras, but that was more purely feel-good (or feel-incredibly-good) and this one eight years earlier actually has a political axe to grind.

In fact, I'm going to guess that one reason for the slightly deflated ratings is the conservative audience didn't really like what the president stands for here, and though it is just a movie, it's easier to root for the cast when they tend to agree with you. And agree in emphatic eloquent ways. There is a speech Douglas (as president) gives toward the end that comes out and boldly takes a simple stand for decent liberal values. He's confident, clear, and unwavering. And if you agree with that kind of thing (I do) you want to say hurrah.

And you want our own darned president to say what he believes so simply and with such firmness.

Of course, all of this is simplified and made too easy. Luckily it's not only about politics. In fact it's a comedy or manners, you might say, the protocol of who to behave with and near the president being fodder for great laughs just as much as the Victorian plays and movies had fun with the same twists of expectations. No wonder it morphed into a hit television series--though oddly enough the humor gets minimized. Maybe the same kinds of jokes wear themselves out.

Rob Reiner is maybe our most astute politically astute director, at least when there is a sense of humor required. He cut his teeth in every way with the best, working with and under Norman Lear in years of shooting (and performing, as "Meathead") in "All in the Family." It shows here. He has a real knack for timing, for turning absurdity to wit, and for warmth. (He probably got some of that from the Smothers Brothers, too.) If you like this don't stop here--Reiner has many other good or possibly great movies, many getting better reviews than this one.

But here we have "The American President," deceptively simple in its title. This is above all a really cozy movie. You want to watch, and you want to be there. At least for a couple hours.

I sound foolish liking this silly movie too much, but there you have it.
6 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
Okay, without a doubt this is one of my favorite romantic comedies.
Frederick Smith7 June 2012
Okay, without a doubt this is one of my favorite romantic comedies. Michael Douglas comes off as Presidential, Annette Benning is spectacular, Martin Sheen is exceptional, and the supporting cast is marvelous. And this is all directed by Rob Reiner, the 2nd generation actor writer director who understands every aspect of film making and is not afraid to let loose with all the knowledge, power and presence required to make a first class film.

Of particular note are David Paymer, Michael J. Fox, and Anna Deavere Smith, all three exceptional character actors whose contributions add so much to the texture and tone of the film. Paymer is the perfect foil to Fox, and Anna balances them perfectly, giving a unity to the staff presence in the film.

Perhaps the most intriguing part of the film is the incorporation of 'normal' events in the White House during the romance. We are not excluded or merely "clued in", but we participate in all the activities of the President, which makes the film more realistic and visceral. The flow of the film is exceptional, since there are no explosions or other violence to distract us, and the cinematography is amazing. The sets are perfect. Rated PG-13 for a scene of sexual innuendo and a few uses of profanity, this film is far from offensive in its delivery, its demeanor, or its presentation. A classic which will enhance any collection.
6 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
I memorized all the lines.
zhongzl-kelley201427 August 2015
Warning: Spoilers
I would credit the success of this movie to the great Aaron Sorkin. His smart jokes and witty ironies are the sugar lacing on this terribly beautiful theme: Love and Politics. I would giggle and clap even if I play this film for the 20th time. The movie is so great that even the lines are deep and far above colloquial level, the adequate actors convince you that they are exactly how the conversations are like in Whitehouse full of elites. It enchants people by revealing the charming side of the traditional labeled "liar politics" and let the audience touch their fresh and blood and deepest emotions. I was extremely curious how did such extraordinary piece of art didn't win an Oscar or a Golden Globe award back.

But it wouldn't be fun I'm just another intrigued audience clapping quietly and leaving and pretending it only influenced me for the two hours I took to watch it. So with that in mind, I went through the movie one more time. Except for Andrew Shepard didn't even bring a translator to the grand diplomacy party with the French president and his wife, and it was a bit awkward to watch only the president and Sydney dancing in a hall full of 200 essential political figures, because they were supposed to be the lead, it was supposed to be a dance ball if the president commanded a dance, but everyone was just watching quietly, like they were tolerating Andrew's inappropriately behavior with courtesy. I planned to watch the links and key scenes for flaws, but instead I came back with swelling excitement and red cheeks and hands sore from squeezing too hard. I guess I'm not a good critic.

Here comes more accolade. Aaron Sorkin is an expert on exposing four year of Andrew's Whitehouse life with a few phases mentioning the customs, like the crew's been there all the time. And the opening scene is divine, I didn't thought much of this film, because I bumped into it when going over Netflix, but the opening scene told me outright that American President wasn't just any film. I was deeply absorbed by the grand music and words floating on a white sculpture, and other totems like eagle, the flag, presidents' portraits and so on. National pride oozed out with a sense of solemnity. Then we witness the charm of the president and Whitehouse's departments clicked like a engine made from Germany.

I scratch my brain and still can't find the best phrases to compliment this masterpiece. But I definitely get something to say when I'm asked about my favorite film.
4 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
8/10
good romance
enmussak20 December 2002
This film worked for the same reason the West Wing works... it humanizes the President. Yes, the most powerful man in the world has feelings and falls in love. I liked one reviewer's comment saying that this film is Capra-esque. It certainly is because of its overall feel-good aspect and optimism. I enjoyed this film, and Michael Douglas seldom disappoints me. 8/10.
20 out of 38 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
9/10
Perhaps the Best Comedy in Three Decades; Moving, Human and Believable
silverscreen88820 March 2007
"The American President" was the source of the later dramatic television series success "The West Wing". Apparently, statist influencers in the U.S. have become so successful at warping the real by "spin" that many people could not understand this seminal film, especially those incompetent reviewers who masquerade as professional critics. It is by any standard of reason I suggest 1. authentic in its meticulously presented milieu, characters and dialogue, 2. an appealing classically romantic comedy and 3. a wonderfully satiric juxtaposition between the American--the self-responsible--qualities of even a president and his vulnerability to pseudo-religious moralizing attacks as he tries to access his individual rights in a nation gone constitutionally insane under the urging of Postmodernists. All this widower president wants at the beginning is a date with a feisty environmental lobbyist; later he wants her as a girl friend, and vice versa, with a a chance to explore their growing relationship. This simple human dignity is compromised as a right by the opposition party's leading candidate, who uses innuendo and false headlining to undermine the man's public popularity and threaten two vital bills both the president and the lobbyist are trying to get through a stone-walling Congress. Rob Reiner directs in a serious and lyrical way dialogue and character revelations that in lesser hands might have been slow or worse; in my judgment the pace never falters for an instant. Aaron Sorkin 's memorable script takes in issues, personalities, levels of relationship and supervision that I believe were both difficult and rewarding with uncommon precision and skill. As the "American"--individual, realist, pro- rights--president, Michael Douglas achieves award level simplicity and command at the same time, something which he had been growing toward for two decades. Only players with shorter roles--John Mahoney, and White House staffers--are really exactly right in their roles; but the clarity of the characters presented in the film's script is so strong, owing the the power of the central character and his categorical value of individualism, that sincere performances become exceptional. Annette Benning is attractive and passable as the lobbyist--first girl friend; Martin Sheen is acceptable as Douglas's aide; but no one is outstandingly good I claim nor unacceptable; their believability I suggest is produced by the ideas and values they are representing. Michael J. Fox's speech level is inadequate as the committed, immature aide; Samantha Mathis and Shawna Waldron and Leon Kodak, Anna Deavere Smith, Richard Dreyfuss, Gail Strickland, and many others get small telling moments; the film centers so well I claim on the president and his lady that all else become background, mosaic pieces in a larger picture, observing, relating to, or commenting on the main thrust of action--a president doing his job and asking his rights. This centrality leading to unforgettable scenes is a quality only the best films possess--"The Guns of Navarone", "The Fountainhead", "Gone With the Wind" and "Bend of the River", for instance. In a comedy, this is a rare achievement therefore. Marc Shaiman's music is unobtrusive and occasionally moving; Gloria Gresham's costumes and the production design by Lilly Kilvert aid the film's hard-won credibility. Cinematography by John Seale and Art Direction by John Warnke are outstandingly believable. I suggest the producers Charles Newirth, Rob Reiner, Barbara Maltby and Jeffrey Stott have achieved something as rare here as was achieved in "An Affait to Remember", "The Bridal Path", "You Came Along" and "Operation Petticoat" and other service-based idea-level satires--something lasting, emotionally satisfying and unusually profound for any genre.
9 out of 15 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
9/10
One of the best political films that has ever been done
walsh-2213 May 2007
Warning: Spoilers
No offence to Michael Douglas but I'm not a fan of his movies but in The American President I thought he was brilliant and enjoyed watching him in the movie. He makes the character very charming, warm and compassionate.

This film was really the first to show the audience an insight into The White House and what it is like for the President, all the problems and dilemmas he has to go through and the expectations ordinary people have for their elected officials. In this film, Michael Douglas plays the President who has a daughter and has had to juggle his job with raising his daughter after his wife died and the public have been sympathetic to him but a threat comes along in the guise of Sydney Ellen Wade played by Annette Bening who Andrew Shepherd takes an interest in and wants to have a relationship with but soon the relationship is under scrutiny and everything from his and her pasts are used to undermine them.

What I find interesting about the film is that American schools teach their students about their government. I think the UK is lacking in this as there is no effort to teach kids about their government and as a result they don't care about politics and that is a shame.

The film is intelligent and yet Rob Reiner does it in such a way that anyone can understand what is being said and you don't need to have an degree to gasp what lies beneath the words.

Richard Dreyfuss plays a right pantomime villain in this, I found myself hissing at him every time he came on the screen and he really played him well as this smug, unscrupulous person who uses muck to discredit Shepherd's character but can't discredit the president's policies.

Annette Bening is just great in this. She is funny and beautiful and has some of the most amusing scenes. Scenes such as her trying to walk out the wrong door in the oval office and not knowing the President was on the phone and her thinking it was a prank.

I have to say I love Michael J. Fox in this, Personally, I think he had some of the best lines in the film. His character looks up to the President and you see him wanting his idol to speak up and tell the American people the way it is and not the way Rumson is telling it.

Martin Sheen is the President's adviser in this and then went on to become the President in The West Wing.

A fine cast, inspiring writing especially at the end and a talented director made this film so popular with the audience.
8 out of 13 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
An excellent movie
bama111128 July 2000
This movie has been blessed with a great script, an outstanding ensemble of actors and wonderful direction by Rob Reiner. My favorite performance is by Martin Sheen but all of the actors do a great job. I have the DVD of this movie and I watch it at least once a month. I think movies like this [Dave, for example, and Air Force One, to an extreme degree]are so enjoyable to me, and others, because they portray the kind of president we would like to see in the White House. A very idealistic point of view, perhaps, but you have to take your "heroes" where you can find them.
6 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
American Presidency 101
joekay13 January 2004
"The American President" can stand alone for its cinematic charms, with sharp script and strong performances, and also for its ability to connect to a typical moviegoer. This is one movie I can remember that really brings the daily goings-on in the White House seem like daily grind rather than grand drama where huge decisions are made and enormous events occur all the time--granted whatever is decided and happens in the White House is indeed huge and enormous, but the film doesn't inflate it to some elitist/exclusive point of view.

And while the movie can be enjoyed purely for its cinematic value, what I do appreciate about this film is that it does make good, valid points about American politics and the presidency of the United States. President Andrew Sheppard (played by Michael Douglas) engages in several conversations and even arguments about what it means to be in his position and how that affects the way he serves his constituents, the American public. His last speech rings true; besides his views that favor obviously to the left of the political spectrum, he makes honest comments about how politicians win elections and how that affects their ability to do their job.

I consider this movie to be a basic cinematic course in understanding the American Presidency and political elements that invariably surround it. It may come off as a left-wing, liberally biased film, but it makes no confusion about the fact that whether they are Democrats or Republicans, politicians have their flaws and unscrupulous methods of keeping their position of power, including the President himself. It is one of my favorite movies, and I give it a 10/10.

joe k.
7 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
1/10
Politically correct, aesthetically suspect
Cabrito10 October 1999
This was the worst movie I saw during the year of its release. Acting was OK, but the script was horrible, full of smarmy political correctness. Another of the non-challenging roles Annette Bening took after her great performance in "The Grifters" -- and happily discarded in her memorable role this year in "Än American Beauty." Douglas is certainly viable casting. This movie tried so hard to capitalize on the popularity of the current Presidency, but romanticized the White House in an unrealistic, and not at all charming way.
13 out of 24 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
1/10
Tries to do both, falls flat
Rebochan26 October 2003
Rob Reiner used to put out some darn funny satires. Unfortunately for this film, he didn't even try. On the one hand is the syrupy, fluff story of a widowed president falling in love with an activist. In other words, a chick flick. Then it switches gears by ramming left-wing rhetoric down your throat and attempting to make itself an "important" film. Not only can the fluffier aspect not mesh well with the "serious" portion, but it also effectively alienates half the audience, as well as everyone else who went in expecting a light romance and got a nice helping of propaganda instead. I'm amazed this later shaped into the West Wing, but at least that series is not hampered by trying to do too many things at once. While still left-wing in rhetoric, the weekly format allows it to switch gears more effectively and thus makes itself more palatable for entertainment. Trying to cram that into a movie fails miserably. If you're looking for a good, light presidential comedy, go rent "Dave." If you're looking for something more meaningful, skip this one.
12 out of 22 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
1/10
Get Out The Barf Bags!
ccthemovieman-117 November 2005
This is so Liberal it's sickening. I mean, I've come to expect a little left-wing propaganda in most films from Hollywood, but to this degree?!

Two hours of Liberal preaching are capped off in the U.S. President's final speech of the movie, in which he proclaims how "proud" he is to be a card-carrying member of the ACLU!!! Ha ha. I guess we all supposed to be cheering at that point. Personally, I reached for the nearest barf bag.

This movie is simply director Rob Reiner's propaganda piece for his agenda. Being a "card-carrying" member of the ultra-Left People For the American Way, Reiner shows us a charming, loving portrait of a President that somehow reminds us of Bill Clinton, if he were a bachelor.

Can you imagine if someone was this heavy-handed on the Right and tried to make a similar movie?? Never happen. For one thing, the critics would tear it apart, which they didn't dare do with this piece of slick celluloid brainwashing.
25 out of 53 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
8/10
Excellent comedy/romance/political film!
LebowskiT10007 December 2002
I'm not usually the kind of person that enjoys a political film, but I found this film to very interesting, very fun and very entertaining. Of course, this film is much more of a comedy/romance film than a political film, but nonetheless there are a great deal of political elements. Some of the political aspects were strange and confusing, but that's just the nature of politics, is it not?

The story is actually rather original (at least I think it is). It's basically about a widower president that decides it's time to move on with his life and pursue other opportunities (if you catch my drift). The story is very well done from start to finish and really has a lot of good things to say about politics, the media, relationships and what not.

All the cast members involved did a fantastic job. I'm not a huge fan of Michael Douglas (not really sure why) but he did a superb job and played a VERY likeable, fun president. Someone that you would really like to know. Martin Sheen also played an extraordinary Chief of Staff for the president and also played a very likeable guy. Michael J. Fox did an excellent job with a role that I didn't expect great things from. Michael deserves a great deal of credit for his role in this film. Annette Bening...WOW! She did a great job with her role and looks better than ever throughout the entire film. I really liked her character, she also played a very warm and likeable character. Samantha Mathis had a somewhat small role in the film, but nonetheless a very important one. She really did a great job with her role and also looks fantastic throughout the film. Finally, Richard Dreyfuss. He also played a very small role, but an extremely important role and did a great job. While he wasn't a very likeable character (he wasn't supposed to be liked), he played it perfectly. Some other great supporting cast members include David Paymer, Anne Haney, Nina Siemaszko, Wendie Malick, and John Mahoney.

I should also mention director Rob Reiner. This guy is just great, he really does a fantastic job directing his films. This is another great film to add to his already impressive list of credits.

I would definitely recommend this film to anyone that likes light-hearted comedies and/or just romantic comedies. This really is an excellent film and ought to be seen. I hope that you will enjoy the film as much as I did. Thanks for reading,

-Chris
14 out of 28 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
1/10
Can I give it a "0"?
jrsemifero5 January 2001
Complete waste of film - how can I get that 2 hours of my life back??? This film was just terrible. It wasn't realistic, it was incredibly left-wing liberal, and to top it off, it was boring. Michael Douglas does so much better in a drama or thriller role. This movie magnifies the fact he should leave romantic movies to the Richard Gere's of the world...
11 out of 21 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
A startlingly well made political love story, The American President succeeds hugely in the tremendously difficult task of being a good love story and a good political story at the same time.
Michael DeZubiria6 August 2002
Michael Douglas, who is most well known for his enormous skill in playing stolid villains or regular men who become desperate because they manage to get themselves in way over their head, puts off these characteristics to play the part of the President of the United States, and he delivers a towering performance in this role. The story is based on the fact that President Andrew Shephard (Douglas) will soon be facing reelection, an election which may be compromised by the fact that he is developing a romantic interest in an envorinmental lobbyist named Sydney Ellen Wade (played beautifully by Annette Bening). Matters are complicated by the fact that Shephard's wife died just before he was elected in the first place, and his cabinet members (particularly Lewis Rothschild, played by Michael J. Fox) are urgently trying to persuade him not to date during the election.

One of the strange things about this movie is that it's kind of ironic that no one has really made a political film like this that centers around a romance involving the President. Indeed, watching a man as powerful as the U.S. President using his powers to flirt with someone that he has a crush on (okay, that sounded pretty dumb. Maybe no one's done it before because it sounds ridiculous in writing!), trying at the same time to persuade her that he really is the President. While it doesn't exactly SOUND like it would make the greatest film, this premise has resulted in the exceedingly superior romantic comedy that we see in The American President.

The performances in the film are spectacular throughout, but it's actually the script that deserves even more attention than the actors' performances, which is a rare distinction in a film. I think that the reason that The American President succeeds so well as a political film as well as a romantic comedy is that both elements are so realistically presented. I think it was Roger Ebert who praised The American President for approaching and handling real issues, such as gun control and the environment, instead of side-stepping this and trying to present a President who is not taking any certain stands on any certain issues that might cause the film's audience to like him or the movie less.

The love story, one of the easiest things in the cinematic medium to completely screw up, is done brilliantly here, largely because of the occupations of the two subjects that it centers on as well as the excellent script. The movie has a nearly endless amount of comments to make about the American Presidency, the way that the public sees the office, and the restrictions that it places on its occupants. There is a pleasant irony between such things as President Shephard's ability to get Wade on the phone when she doesn't even have a phone of her own (hey, I'm a poet and I didn't even realize it…), but his complementary inability to even bring her to the house for a nice, innocent dinner.

President Andrew Shephard is faced with the unfortunate task of trying to appease the American public, retain his position in the White House, convince Sydney Ellen Wade that he is who he says he is and that he is genuinely interested in her, and provide for his own romantic happiness, with the added conflict that if any one of them fails, all of the others are likely to fail as well. It's true that, this being a rather light-hearted romantic comedy, we already know how the film is going to end, but brilliant dialogue, a fascinating story, unusually interesting characters, and a tense political atmosphere prevent the material from getting boring just because we really already know how it's going to turn out in the end. Besides that, the romance in the film is so well done that that element alone makes it worth watching.

There's a scene in the film when President Shephard and Wade are dancing in a crowded dinner hall, and she asks him what people are going to think about the whole situation, wondering who that woman is and why the President is dancing with her. In an example of the brilliance of the script as well as the reason that the romantic plot of the film succeeds so well, Shephard responds, `Sydney Ellen Wade, because she said yes.'

You see, romance CAN be done right sometimes.
6 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
1/10
Left-Wing Liberal Gibberish
unclealan26 September 2002
Having a long bus ride with nothing to read, I started watching "The American President" out of shear boredom. That boredom quickly turned to anger as the left-wing bias of the movie clearly became evident: liberal democrats are good, conservative republicans are bad (and not just bad... evil).

Before seeing the final credits, I knew that "Meathead" Rob Reiner had to be involved in some way. "Meathead" is better off sticking with comedy (like the brilliant "Spinal Tap"), than pushing his liberal left-wing, fantasy-based agenda onto the American public.

Such as shame, because the scenes involving the inner workings of the White House were actually quite entertaining. I suppose partisan politics have to be injected in any movie about an American president, but the concept of balance (especially on Reiner's scale of late, to pardon the pun) seems to be long forgotten in Hollywood.
12 out of 25 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
3/10
if only I could purge this film from my memory...
dr_foreman5 April 2004
"The American President" can't decide whether it wants to be a syrupy, fairy-tale romance or an anti-Republican rant. The film ends up with a foot in both camps, which makes for a very awkward and uneven tone indeed.

Though the current administration scares me silly, I used to have quite strong conservative leanings, and I felt patronized and irritated by this movie's constant, simplistic criticism of right-wing values. It attempts to defend Clinton by presenting a "sanitized" version of that particular President. If you're going to defend Clinton, then REALLY defend him; don't do "Clinton lite" with a "lite" version of his scandals. The Republican characters are all, as you might expect, dumb as bricks, and it's up to Michael Douglas to call a press conference and blast them all for being prejudiced fearmongers. Way to go, Michael.

Now, I don't mind political commentary in a film, if it's at all well done. But this film stereotypes liberals and conservatives alike, and has about the sophistication level you'd expect from a political treatise written by a p****d-off 15-year-old.

The movie is hypocritical, too, because it creates a very passive and flighty character in the form of Sydney Ellen Wade (Annette Bening, annoying as all Hell in this movie). Wade takes a deferential, reverential, and generally submissive posture towards the President, which certainly undermines this film's claims to political/social Enlightenment. The woman's a chattering nitwit who supports that most popular of causes - environmentalism - instead of expressing her opinions on a really controversial issue (like abortion, for example). In short, she's about as feminist as low-riding jeans, and her attachment to the President becomes a sort of Disney-like tale of wish fulfillment based entirely on a powerful man. Eeww.

Believe it or not, this was my ex-girlfriend's favorite movie (nice to know that good taste continues to thrive in this day and age, eh?). When I complained that the politics alienated me, she screeched back that it was the story she liked, not the message. What story? What message? This whole thing can be boiled down to the statement: "It would be nice to date a Democrat President." And it would be death to date a Republican one, presumably. Pathetic.
10 out of 21 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
7/10
" Just another white guy in a suit!!"
Graham Watson8 February 2009
Warning: Spoilers
There have been a lot of changes in American politics since this was released, but at the time Rob Reiner was probably motivated to produce this because of the election of Americas first baby-boom president a couple of years earlier. In doing this he attempts to shed some light on the complex political system in Washington DC, perhaps for a new generation of Americans but certainly for those who are fascinated by American politics. It's not just the political horse trading that goes on for votes, or even the power and influence that lobbyists hold but also how the manipulation of polls ultimately determine policy making. More importantly by the 1990's the baby boom generation who were immersed in the social changes and civil rights movements in the late 60's and early 1970's either as liberals or conservatives were now in government either as democrats or republicans. Therefore the script for the American President reflected the cultural clash of that time period playing out in national politics during the 90's.

For example, in the USA the American left want to expand the role of government in all facets of life even though very few people demand this. They focus on global warming and international agreements over climate change and attempt to control inner city gun violence (which is really drug related) as well as promoting gay marriage. None of these issues concerns or benefit the urban middle class, the rural blue collar working class or average voter who are the ones playing by the rules and are trying to get ahead.

On the other hand the right complain about the demise of moral standards and the strains on the traditional nuclear family. Yet they are often unable to live up to the high standards that they preach and are caught out having extra marital affairs, flirting with collage interns or chasing congressional page boys. Military service is the most honorable thing a patriot can do, but many of them and their immediate family members find better or more lucrative things to do than serve themselves and are happy to send others over seas to do the fighting. Illegal immigration is a real problem, but often it is disclosed that many people that they hire as nannies and gardeners don't have a valid green card. Lastly, big government is good if it's spending that they want! None of these, although embarrassing indiscretions for what they proclaim to stand for affects the quality of life of the middle class either.

Americas' first baby boomer President not only never served in uniform but avoided service in the Vietnam war, he experimented with drugs, and over the years fooled around with other women while at the same time being married. His ambitious wife aware of these affairs, not only shrugged this off but was determined to get involved in policy making in the white how and was quite happy putting the political boot in. This was all in sharp contrast to the traditional non-political role the first lady tended to take. The right did not like this type of relationship and it became a political issue at the time.

What follows is largely a cosy, easy going romantic comedy and the film touches on a few of these hot button political issues. The fictional President here was Andrew Shepard (Michael Douglas) a single parent, a former history professor and governor from the state of Wisconsin. Elected by a small margin largely on the back of sympathy because his wife died during the campaign he also had the burden of receiving a very small winning percentage of the vote.

This time the ambitious woman is Sydney Ellen Wade a pushy, sassy, feminist heavy-hitter from the lobbying and political consultancy world of Washington DC. Having taken a fancy to Wade the widowed Shepard seeking intimacy has to fight off republican criticism that he is dishonoring the white house by having a relationship with her while not being married. (If only Reiner was to know what was to later be disclosed in the real white house a couple of years later)!! This is red meat for his political opponents, but he refuses to be drawn into something he regards as a private matter. However the attacks on his character and the campaign to bring Wade down by portraying her as a radical or extremist eventually takes a political toll, consequently his job approval numbers go into free fall.

Also during this there is an sub-plot when Shepard has to respond to a terrorist act linked to Libya. Because of his lack of military experience and needing to look tough for domestic political purposes he orders a retaliatory attack on the Libyan intelligence building in a "decisive and proportional response". On this occasion the unlucky recipients on the receiving end of a smart bomb are the janitors working the night shift. The intelligence agents presumably responsible for the original terrorist act know that it is coming and are setting up shop somewhere else. Shepard is not sure of the real benefit of this but gives the order knowing full well that he is beholden to the domestic political reality of not wanting to be seen as weak.

In the end Shepard comes out swinging and seems to get the upper hand over his political enemies, although in this case the movie ends as soon as gets the last word! Never the less it's still an entertaining and watch able movie with a fine supporting cast i.e. Michael J Fox, Annette Benning and Martin Sheen. No doubt this inspired NBC's the " West Wing" and in all intensive purposes could easily have been a pilot for the series!
6 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
8/10
New genre, political romantic comedy?
waynec5023 February 2006
This movie is entertaining enough, fills in enough political insider stuff, has a nice romantic storyline and one of Michael J. Fox's best acting jobs. Martin Sheen does some prep for his "West Wing" turn as chief of staff very handily. Michael Douglas handles the President/single parent role competently. The real star is, of course, Annette Benning, who steals just about every scene. Richard Dreyfuss really hams it up as the loyal(?) opposition candidate. The plot follows young, handsome, charismatic President Andrew Shepherd as he wines and dines lovely lobbyist Ellen Wade, while trying to run the country, improve his popularity and electability, navigate political minefields and raise his teenage daughter. The film is well directed by Rob Reiner, who always seems to get that extra something out of his actors. My wife liked it a lot more than I did, but it's still an entertaining, if fluffy political/romantic comedy/drama.
9 out of 19 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
loading
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews