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The Reagans (TV) More at IMDbPro »

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23 out of 37 people found the following review useful:

Brilliant...plain and simple

Author: Robert W. ( from Ontario, Canada
5 June 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Late last year I hyped Jamie Foxx's role as Ray Charles as the best I have ever seen. Second best and very close second is James Brolin in his drop dead amazing portrayal as President Ronald Wilson Reagan. Robert Allan Ackerman brings us the much hyped, controversial film The Reagans.

The Reagans basically begins with Ron meeting Nancy in a chance encounter years before the Whitehouse when they were both in Hollywood. We see younger Ron's passion and fire when it comes to Government and politics and we are shown his gradual rise to the top of the political parties through his defeats and eventually his greatest win of all. The movie then shows us the inner workings of one of the most controversial Presidencies. Hostages in Iran, an attempted assassination, "Star Wars" the missile defense system, and the end to the Cold War. All these issues and far more are dealt with no holds barred, showing both sides and also giving us the pros and cons of Reagan's decisions. At the heart of the film is the relationship between Nancy and Ron. Nancy is portrayed as overbearing, shallow at times, over confident, strong, dedicated, outspoken, controlling...her character is as anti-hero as it is hero at times. You have mixed opinions of her which is quite realistic to most peoples opinions. The film takes us right to the end of The Reagan Presidency showing us a man's legacy and a husband and wife who ran the country.

James Brolin embodies and becomes Ronald Reagan. His character is just frighteningly exact which makes the movie so much more amazing even if the rest of the cast wasn't as good and the story lacked something, Brolin's performance could have carried it. Fortunately the story was wonderfully written and dealt with covering every major event in the administration and Reagan's early years. If anything the events they covered were a tad too brief but it never jumped around to the point of confusion and kept a decent pace. Judy Davis who I thought bore a striking resemblance to Annette Bening but nonetheless played the most controversial of the characters with Nancy Reagan. To me it is easy to see the level of controversy that The Reagan family and the Republican party would have had with this film. The family is portrayed as broken, and a casualty to Ron's emphatic political beliefs and macho image. Nancy is portrayed as only a staunch supporter of her husband no matter what she has to do to provide that support and at what cost to her children. Their daughter played excellently by Zoie Palmer is the best example of their tragic existence in this political family and atmosphere. The film holds no punches and in the end takes a slight turn towards being non partisan by slipping in the big picture damage that some of the decisions Ronald Reagan made had on the American way of life. Still the film is hands down one of the best political films or biographies I have ever seen if not for the sole reason of James Brolin and Judy Davis. Through all the chaos you feel pity and joy with these characters. This a must see especially for anyone interested in history of politics. An amazing supporting cast, and amazing storyline as well. 9/10

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26 out of 44 people found the following review useful:

A Necessary Watch

Author: Charles Errolls from Castro Valley, California
11 June 2004

In the aftermath of Reagan's passing, the entire media is hurriedly engaged in rewriting the truth about this highly-flawed but interesting man. Virtually all of his significant errors, short-comings, and failures are being sanitized, and as his canonization completes itself the myths that remains will be a sham. Every citizen who values the truth should buy this DVD now and watch it before it disappears, just like the truths it reveals are disappearing.

In this remarkably factual production we learn about Reagan the actor, capable and pleasant. We also learn that he snitched off his pals to the HUAC. We learn that during the war he made movies in Culver City for the Army, and later had trouble finding work, finally winding up as GE's spokesman for Death Valley Days on Television, a medium he always held in contempt.

We watch his disdain for the IRS grow as his income skyrockets, and how it matures into a complete repudiation of the Federal Government. And as his resentment of the Federal Government grows, we witness how the shadowy rich seduce him into becoming their tax-cutting puppet, from the Governship of California through 2 terms in the White House.

Most importantly, we learn the truth about the most dysfunctional family ever to inhabit the White House, based largely on Reagan's shocking disinterest in his own flesh and blood.

Mainly, however, we learn the truth about Nancy. Let's just say that the truth as it is revealed here eclipses everything that you though you knew about this shrewd and manipulative woman.

This film contains the truths about Reagan that the Modern Cons don't want you to know. The source-work for this film is beyond reproach, with most of it coming from the writings of Reagans children first published years ago.

Production wise, it's great. James Brolin is uncanny in his capture of the Reagan personna, and he delivers a performance that is charitable and kind. I think it's his best ever. The other performances are equally as good.

Bottom Line: The truth is out there, and this is it.

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27 out of 46 people found the following review useful:

Actors can play presidents

Author: john c griffin ( from Chatham IL
29 May 2004

James Brolin's portrayal of Ronald Reagan is easily the best I have viewed. Judy Davis was very good too in her portrayal of Nancy Reagan as she captivated Nancy's personality just as I would imagine it as Ronny's strong right hand. Viewers who criticize this as a "hatchet job" should either get their head out of the sand or read a history book because it is a well known fact that Ronny was an out of touch, hands off president who deligated power so recklessly that it finally got him in big trouble in the infamous "arms for hostages" debacle that casted a dark cloud over his final days as president. It is also well known that in his final years he was often in a memory lapped fog as his mind and memory were slowly degenerating in the early stages of undiagnosed Alzheimer's Disease. This was very apparent when he was interviewed about his role in the "arms for hostages" and he had a blank look on his face as he stated that he couldn't remember anything. Not long after that, his doctors finally diagnosed his condition and he made his final farewell speech and stated that he was going to "ride off into the sunset". He will always be remembered as a great president in spite of his flaws. This movie did a great job in showing Nancy and him, with all their blemishes, in a fair and accurate portrayal. It is also common knowledge that they had a poor relationship with their children and were somewhat cold and distant to them -especially Nancy being cold to her 2 stepkids by Jane Wyman. She was known to be quite jealous of Ronny's first wife and unfortunately for the 2 kids, they had to take the brunt. Knowing alot about this couple in advance made me enjoy the movie all the more, because it did not seem to pull any punches or gloss over their faults but also portrayed their good side too. James Brolin did such a good job of looking and acting like Ronnie that he deserves special recognition. My respect for him as an actor increased multifold after viewing this movie and it will remain as one of my favorites. Definitely a "10" out of 10 in my opinion. Banning this movie from television (it was originally a made for t.v. movie) was ridiculous and those who criticize this movie should have their heads examined!!

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22 out of 37 people found the following review useful:

Good Docudrama, with Excellent Acting

Author: Ron Smolin ( from Philadelphia
1 December 2003

Despite all the bad mouthing of this television movie, I was surprised by the quality of the film, the actors, the editing, and production. I think it ranks with many other good docudramas, telling the story of Ron and Nancy Reagan's life together, from mainly the perspective of Nancy and her quirky, ambitious, controlling personality. Was it a fair and balanced portrayal? Well, only those close to the Reagans can tell us, but it seemed fair to me, pointing out the strong and weak points of both characters. James Brolin did a superb job of acting --I thought it was Emmy material. And all the supporting family members and White House staff (etc.) come across fairly well drawn. Al Haig's character comes off right on! I hear criticism that the characters were one-dimensional, but I didn't find that to be the case at all. I thought it was worth an 8 out of 10.

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21 out of 36 people found the following review useful:

Terrific movie, totally SCREWED

Author: bkdement from United States
2 January 2005

Well it's true enough that people decided not to watch this film, which is clear enough from reading their absurdly uninformed opinions about it.

There was an incredible spread of lies about this movie, all published based on a completely unrelated rough draft of an entirely different screenplay, which were quickly distributed via the internet to anyone who enjoys getting fired up. That's a lot of people, and yes, most of them host television shows with screaming people on them. Thanks to the internet, the "American People" did not choose not to support "The Reagans." No, they chose to be prey to brainwashing which was based on lies about a film which had not yet been completed, assembled in the editing room, or therefor seen by anyone including it's own director.

And it IS censorship which is caused by official segments of the Republican party organizing protests and threatening CBS, resulting in a fantastic film being dumped in the grand name of ignorance and hero worship. Apparently three hours of actual study is too much to ask of "the American people" these days.

I have seen this film several times, because out of curiosity I purchased a copy. Now of course we don't know what Nancy Reagan said during downtime at home when her husband was running for office. But if we had to limit our films and television shows to dialogue that can be 100% verified, then we are all doomed to watch nothing but "Survivor" and "The Surreal Life" for the rest of our lives.

Furthermore, anyone with a brain should know that no one, no not even Nancy Reagan, can be pleasant and happy all the time. You watch someone when they know they're in front of a camera and they will not necessarily show you the part of their personality that got them there. Truly objective and humane people would appreciate this film BECAUSE of the negative moments, and the positive ones. I would much rather watch a brilliantly-acted and produced film that seems to be balanced and believable than a live-action cartoon featuring Ronald Reagan as the protagonist.

People who are sick and dying deserve to be respected, surely. However, it must be understood that a film takes time and the producers of this movie certainly could not have decided to time the release of this one just before his death. Is anyone really crazy enough to believe that they had this in mind? Is there a stupider idea for a film director to have? Oh, I know, let's mutilate the reputation of the one of the most beloved American presidents in our history just as he's slowly dying of a dreaded disease. And let's not forget to also destroy the image of his wife Nancy, before airing our expose on Mother Theresa. Yup, that must've been their motivation.

It reminds me of everyone accusing Ellen DeGeneres of coming out in order to bolster her career....and look at all of the people who followed her lead because of the great effect it has on a person's career.

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14 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

A Dysfunctional Family

Author: Robert J. Maxwell ( from Deming, New Mexico, USA
30 November 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***


"The Reagans" is the right title. The movie has less to do with Reagan's political career (and doesn't even touch his acting) than it does with familial relationships, mainly the bond between Reagan ("Ronnie") and Nancy ("Mommy Pants"). We get to know something about the kids too, although I frankly got some of them mixed up at times, since they're played by different actors at different ages. Of the political staff I have a clear image only of Mike Deever (Ivanek). The other actors look nothing like the actual people they are playing, which may not be a problem for younger viewers who never heard of Jimmy Carter let alone Alexander Haig.

I found it kind of surprising actually. No one is painted as thoroughly evil, but every character in the drama is flawed in one obvious way or another. The reason I found it surprising is not that it doesn't ring true. After all, everyone is flawed in some way, except for me.

The main reason I found it surprising is that this is a movie chiefly about living people, people who know the meaning of the word "litigation." I'm truly surprised anyone could get away with something like this -- that is to say, something other than a hagiography. The same thing that makes the movie surprising is what makes it less believable than it should be.

What I mean is -- this is a script with dialogue, some of it reproducing casual conversational exchanges from forty or fifty years ago, and some of them rather nasty. But who can remember what he or she said over lunch on, say, December 12th, 1958? Here are a few snippets of dialogue I made notes of, just from the first half hour. I'd have written down more of them from the remaining two and a half hours but I'm not being paid enough.

Nancy's mother: "Hollywood is nothing more than wall-to-wall Jews, queers," and something else. Same source: "You weren't cut out to be a housewife. Kids are little monsters." Same source: "We just love it in Phoenix. All we do is drink martinis, go shopping for jewelry, play golf, and sit around the pool." After a party: Nancy,"There was a lot of money there tonight." Ronnie: "Yeah. I've never seen so many rich people." Nancy: "And old money." At one point, Ronnie says: "I'm an actor, not a politician." When the family moves into the governor's mansion in Sacramento, a stately Victorian, Nancy's mother looks around with distaste and says, "You're not going to live in THIS relic, are you?" Nancy's father: "It's a firetrap." Nancy: And the neighborhood is just terrible, and the schools are no good."

I just find it hard to believe that these words are accurate. Words "to that effect", yes -- whatever that means. But those specific words?

Of course the words that were spoken in public are recorded for all time on videotape or paper somewhere, so there's no reason to doubt them. On the other hand, public speech from politicians is mostly blather and not very informative.

So, anyway, how do the Reagans come across? Rather disjointedly. It's not a particularly good script. Reagan's character is at least written as consistent. He's a nice guy who keeps having recurring nightmares about trying to save people. (Who said that?) He hates arguments and doesn't like to say no to anyone and he never gets angry. (Nothing in there about shouting, "Mister Chairman, I PAID for this microphone," or, "Mister Gorbachev -- tear down this wall!") Nancy, though, is turned into a snooty bitch both by the script and by Judy Davis. Nothing is good enough for her, including the White House china selections bought over the years by Mrs. Truman, Mrs. Taft, etc. "We might as well use paper plates!" She truly loves Ronnie -- no question -- but aside from that she is given only one touch of humanity. She tries to talk to Ronnie about AIDS when her beloved hairdresser dies of the disease. (He's not interested.) But this is inconsistent with her character as written because she is nowhere shown with even a hint of a social conscience.

Brolin does a professional job as Reagan, and Davis swishes through her part with a vengeance. Every other exit line is a snotty comment. The kids are hard to tell apart except for Patti, who has guts, and the grown Ronnie who has become a ballet dancer of all things. "Nothing wrong with being a dancer," Reagan tries to convince himself and the press, "Look at Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly -- real men." And Patti has a good moment watching her Mom on TV during the "Just Say No To Drugs" campaign. "Where were you THEN?" asks Patti, taking a big toke off her joint. Actually, there's quite a bit of humor in this longish film. After Reagan's bombshell of a Star Wars speech, a reporter calls Deever "for comment," and asks, "You know where he got the idea? Ever hear of 'Murder in the Air'?", and the reporter looks down at a VHS of the old Reagan movie. Says Deever, "Great flick."

Since I don't want to run out of space I will simply recommend watching it. I'm not sure I'd want to see it again, but it's a real curiosity. Gossips may get more out of it than I did.

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24 out of 44 people found the following review useful:

Bravo to Showtime

Author: yenlo from Auburn, Me
23 January 2004

All I can say is Bravo to Showtime for airing this picture. There seems very little doubt now (and not because of this movie) that what was depicted in this made for TV film is accurate. Ronald Reagan was a spaced out old man residing in his own private La-La Land who had a great PR campaign to buffalo the American people into believing that he was running the country. The GOP and conservatives objected to this film. Well boo-hoo! It was made and shown. Isn't that what America is all about? Or is it about what conservatives only want?

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15 out of 28 people found the following review useful:


Author: Joseph Pintar from New Hartford, NY
20 May 2004

I hate the fact that I had to wait for this movie to come out on DVD before I could see it. Why, because some idiots bullied CBS into pulling it. Shame on CBS for not airing this movie. This movie is a great dramatization of Ronald and Nancy Reagan. James Brolin is excellent as the 40th President and Judy Davis is terrific as Nancy Reagan. Those who criticize this movie haven't seen it and don't want to try to see the Reagans as flawed human beings. Yes, Reagan today is slowly dying but that doesn't make his political legacy questionable. The 1980s had its own problems just like we have today. I know, I grew up in the 1980s. What worked back then would not work today. I think that people should see this movie and decide for themselves.

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15 out of 28 people found the following review useful:

OK Miniseries, Great Acting

Author: 235SCOPE from United States
30 November 2003

Whoever wrote THE REAGANS clearly doesn't buy into the Reagan "mystique" that so seems to send conservatives into a paroxysm of admiration for Ronnie, his wife and their politics. That aside, this is a not a great movie. The story is well known to all (everyone from Patty Davis to Donald Regan wrote about it), the dialogue is so-so and the low-budget limitations show throughout.

But it is simply amazing to watch Judy Davis and James Brolin as the famous couple. The resemblance to the originals is so astounding sometimes you forget you're watching a drama. What's more, both actors take a thoroughly human approach to their characters, never falling into farse or exaggerations. Both deserve at least acting nominations for these roles.

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24 out of 46 people found the following review useful:

A fair and accurate portrayal of a pathetic president

Author: Maga from The Greater Southwest
30 November 2003

CBS really dropped the ball when they caved in to the right wing of this country by pulling this film. God Bless Showtime for having the courage and good sense to show it. To be honest, this movie confirmed more than enlightened. I always knew that Reagan was a simpleton who was dominated by a fanatical and crazed first lady. He was a President that prayed and then cut off funding to hospitals. He praised nature and then gave the go ahead for strip-mining operations. He ran up the biggest deficits of all-time and had no compassion for anyone that made less than six figures. This movie exposes this fraud for the joke he was and is. Brilliant! **** out of ****. Oh yeah, he was the family values President who was the only President to get a divorce.

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