A widowed president running for reelection
falls in love with an environmental lobbyist.
The American President (1995)
Directed by Rob Reiner
Written by Aaron Sorkin
Starring Michael Douglas, Annette Bening, Martin Sheen,
Michael J. Fox, David Paymer, Anna Deavere Smith,
Samantha Mathis, Richard Dreyfuss, John Mahoney
Oscar Nominations - Best Original Score (Marc Shaiman)
I want to live in Aaron Sorkin's America. A place where the political leaders are ethical, intelligent people who truly do want what's best for the American people. A place where environmental legislation and gun control legislation is met with intelligent discourse and not loud, incoherent shrieks by politicians who tow the party line. A place where the President of the United States is a decent human being who feels guilt, drive, and love all in the same day because he's actually doing the job. Sorkin's America looks so goddamn inviting, and maybe this is what politics in the 90's felt like. I wouldn't know. But The American President made me wish I could.
Michael Douglas is exceptionally presidential as Andrew Shepherd, a widowed president who is also a single father and trying to push a crime bill through Congress. When he meets Sydney Ellen Wade (Bening, also exceptional), a smart, driven environmental lobbyist, he's immediately smitten and asks her to a state dinner. Pretty soon, they fall in love, but the media and the opposition's constant digs at his "family values" causes his approval ratings to plummet, and he's forced to choose between love and his presidency. I gotta say, after four years of a psychotic moron and two years of a senile liar, it was refreshing to see what an actual leader would look like. I sure hope I get to see one for myself one day.
The American President is a witty, funny, dramatic, and touching dramedy that puts a political spin on the traditional romcom tropes. Plus, we don't really get to see this side of the president in film or real life. His day-to-day, his personal life, his relationship with his children. Everything we do see looks so forced for the camera. But Sorkin and Reiner together captured a realistic and entertaining depiction of how a president would court the woman of his dreams. I really loved this movie.