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Donal Lardner Ward
Donal Lardner Ward,
Comedy about two high school girls who wander off during a class trip to the White House and meet President Richard Nixon. They become the official dog walkers for Nixon's dog Checkers, and become his secret advisors during the Watergate scandal. Written by
Director Andrew Fleming wanted the feel of a 1970s movie and tried to frame scenes as he thought they might have been framed in a comedy from that era. He also used analog tape editing tools, rather than digital, to maintain this feel. See more »
When the girls first meet President Nixon there is a conversation about the Vietnam War. They say to blame Johnson and someone says that he is dead and someone else says thank God. Johnson died in January 1973 and the scene was supposed to be right after the break in which was June 1972. See more »
Excuse me, Mr. President. I was not informed that you were in the middle of... what the hell ARE you in the middle of?
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Much time has passed since the Watergate scandal of 1974. In the present day, we see so many scandals involving upper-crust politicians (including, but not limited to, the President), that we have become jaded to their importance. In 1974, though, this scandal marked the first time a president's authority and character had been publicly questioned. The two main characters are two 15-year-old girls - one the only offspring of a single mother (who is played by Teri Garr) and the other the only sister in a standard nuclear family, complete with a pothead older brother who's about to be drafted. The events of the times are swirling around these two young ladies, but we see them all through their eyes. Some of us know about the events of the early 1970s because we were there, and others of us know about them through history books or from our elders. But now we get to see these events as they pertain to two teenagers. It's interesting how the basic character of a teenager hasn't changed - these girls dismiss Watergate and Vietnam initially and are more concerned with teen idols, school, and, well, teenager stuff. Admittedly, the plot's a little contrived, but it never makes the mistake of taking itself seriously. One of the girls happens to live in the Watergate Hotel, and late one night they both innocently learn of the break-in. They subsequently get to meet many key Watergate players, including Haldemann, Liddy, Wooodward, Bernstein, Kissinger, and, of course, Nixon himself.
The most amazing thing about this script is that while nothing is really historically revised to tell the tale, the girls' characters are used to supply details of these historical events that may answer some old questions. What happened to the section that Nixon's secretary chopped from the illegal tape? Who was Deep Throat, anyway? The 'answers' to these questions will make you laugh.
As for the acting, it's absolutely perfect. Kirsten Dunst and Michelle Williams are a real treat as the giggly, naive teenage girls. Their characters are very well-written - at no point do they do something that seems out of character. But the biggest treat of all is Dan Hedaya as Nixon. Some people can do Nixon impressions, and some ARE Nixon. Hedaya captures the feel for the ex-President, from his creepy scowl when trying to be friendly to his state of panic when the truth of the scandal finally set in. He's the best thing going in this film, and possibly should be nominated for his work.
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