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The American President (1995)

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Comedy-drama about a widowed U.S. President and a lobbyist who fall in love. It's all above-board, but "politics is perception", and sparks fly anyway.

Director:

Rob Reiner

Writer:

Aaron Sorkin
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Popularity
3,384 ( 584)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 9 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Michael Douglas ... Andrew Shepherd
Annette Bening ... Sydney Ellen Wade
Martin Sheen ... A.J. MacInerney
Michael J. Fox ... Lewis Rothschild
Anna Deavere Smith ... Robin McCall
Samantha Mathis ... Janie Basdin
Shawna Waldron ... Lucy Shepherd
David Paymer ... Leon Kodak
Anne Haney ... Mrs. Chapil
Richard Dreyfuss ... Senator Rumson
Nina Siemaszko ... Beth Wade
Wendie Malick ... Susan Sloan
Beau Billingslea ... Agent Cooper
Gail Strickland ... Esther MacInerney
Joshua Malina ... David
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Storyline

Andrew Shepherd is approaching the end of his first term as President of the United States. He's a widower with a young daughter and has proved to be popular with the public. His election seems assured. That is until he meets Sydney Ellen Wade, a paid political activist working for an environmental lobby group. He's immediately smitten with her and after several amusing attempts, they finally manage to go on a date (which happens to be a State dinner for the visiting President of France). His relationship with Wade opens the door for his prime political opponent, Senator Bob Rumson, to launch an attack on the President's character, something he could not do in the previous election as Shepherd's wife had only recently died. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Why can't the most powerful man in the world have the one thing he wants most?

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some strong language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | French | Spanish

Release Date:

17 November 1995 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Mi querido presidente See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$62,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$65,000,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | SDDS | DTS-Stereo | Dolby SR | Dolby

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Camp David is strictly off-limits to the public and the media. Production Designer Lilly Kilvert used someone's personal snapshots from the Richard Nixon era, and a lot of imagination, when designing the set. See more »

Goofs

When the President is giving his big speech to the press corps, Michael J Fox is shown in one shot looking to his right, the next shot he's looking straight ahead. See more »

Quotes

A. J. MacInerney: [in the Oval Office] Excuse me, sir, where are you going?
President Andrew Shepherd: I'm going over to her house. I'm going to stand outside her door until she lets me in, and I'm not leaving 'til I get her back.
A. J. MacInerney: How are you going to do that, sir?
President Andrew Shepherd: Well, I haven't worked that out yet, but I'm sure groveling will be involved.
See more »

Alternate Versions

Company logos change between versions. For example, on the laserdisc, the movie starts with a 20-second silent Columbia logo (before the Castle Rock logo), and the end credits crawl includes (after the title of the movie has gone onscreen) a line-art logo "Released by Columbia Pictures/A Sony Pictures Entertainment company" that crawls up and stops, over the end of the music. On the international prints, the 1990-1997 Universal logo was played and it was also silent. The 1999 WB DVD skips the opening logo, starting with the Castle Rock logo instead, and where the Columbia logo at the end should appear as the music ends, a still clouds-and-shield WB logo appears instead (Distributed by WB/A Warner Communications Company). The Columbia versions are probably truer to the original theatrical release. See also The Shawshank Redemption. See more »

Connections

References It's a Wonderful Life (1946) See more »

Soundtracks

Ballet Music from Faust
By Charles Gounod
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Romantic, amusing, inspiring portrait of President's fish bowl life
5 March 2006 | by roghacheSee all my reviews

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.


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