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The American President

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: The American President

Starring: Michael Douglas, Annette Bening
Director: Rob Reiner
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 115 Minutes
Release Date: November 1995
Genre: Romance

*Also starring: Richard Dreyfuss, Martin Sheen, Michael J. Fox, Anna Deavere Smith, David Paymer, Samantha Mathis, John Mahoney, Wendie Malick

Review by Andrew Hicks
3 stars out of 4

A wonderful Rob Reiner film that expertly combines comedy, drama, romance and even some sociopolitical commentary, THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT chronicles the newfound romance of a lonely widower (Michael Douglas) who just happens to be leader of the free world. And having a sexually-frustrated president who exercises the pocket veto in the absence of female companionship can never be a good thing. So when Douglas finds himself actually about to make a pass at Janet Reno, he decides it might be time to find a first lady.

In walks Annette Bening, an environmental lobbyist who's trying to make sure Douglas will support a fossil-fuel bill to be sent to Congress. And something about the 97-octane perfume she wears gets to Douglas, so he asks her to a state dinner, your average first date. One thing leads to another and soon he's emancipating her in the Lincoln bedroom. Interestingly enough, five minutes into the act, a tour guide leads a group of tourists into the bedroom... "And this is the Lincoln bedr--OH MY GOD!"

As it has a propensity to do, the press soon finds out about the fling. The cabinet, which includes Michael J. Fox (who I suspect got down on his knees and begged Reiner to put him in the movie) and talented character actor David Paymer (of QUIZ SHOW and MR. SATURDAY NIGHT, among others), is appalled, knowing Douglas' main opposition, an evil Republican senator (Richard Dreyfuss) will have a field day smearing Douglas with peanut butter... no, with the affair. Of course, in Hollywood, the phrase "evil Republican" is all but redundant. One of the few faults of THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT is its portrayal of the right wing as heartless and incompetent and liberals as the world's humble messiahs, while completely ignoring indisputable facts about the Republican party--that Rush Limbaugh always tells the truth, Ronald Reagan never forgets and Newt Gingrich in no way resembles Doc from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.

THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT features first-rate writing, directing and acting. Surprisingly, even Michael J. Fox has graduated from the superficialities of insulting Mallory and Jennifer and traveling through time in a Delorean to the world of dramatic acting. And as usual, Bening, Dreyfuss and Paymer all give good performances. Douglas shines in what is the second Hollywood version of Bill Clinton (remember Kevin Kline in DAVE?). Douglas even looks like Clinton (Michael, if you're reading this, no offense man.) and seems to have mastered Clinton's mannersims, even down to the exact manner in which he signs bills, downs a box of super-size fries in one gulp and unhooks the bras of Washington women with the greatest of ease.

This is definitely a terrific romance comedy that is believable, intelligent and touching, even if it does have political correctness coming out its ... lower posterior region. I would have used that three letter word with the one A and two S's but I too have been stricken with the P.C. virus of late. Well, except for the jokes about having sex in the Lincoln bedroom, Reagan's Alzheimer's and Clinton's reputation for promiscuity.

Copyright 1995 Andrew Hicks

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