Movie Analysis: The American President (1995)

With a new administration in our presidential office, I thought I would watch a movie about an administration and The American President came up. The film came out on November 17th 1995, and was directed by Rob Reiner. According to IMDB it is a comedy, drama, and romance. I would personally say it’s more of a romance because of how focused it is on the relationship between an environmental lobbyist and the president. The movie had a budget of around 62 million dollars and grossed about 60 million in the US according to IMDB.

A forbidden love might cost the presidency from Andrew Shepherd. Photo courtesy of Gone with the Twins.

“A widowed U.S. President running for reelection and an environmental lobbyist fall in love. It’s all above-board, but “politics is perception,” and sparks fly anyway,” according to a summary from IMDB

The American President stars, Michael Douglas as President Andrew Shepherd, Annette Bening who plays Sydney Ellen Wade, Martin Sheen as AJ MacInerney, and Michael J. Fox plays Lewis Rothschild. President Shepherd is a laid back president who has an amazing approval rate which is good for his re-election campaign. Sydney Ellen Wade is a passionate environmental lobbyist who will stop at nothing to make sure the environment is protected. 

The film was nominated for many awards but received one award from the National Board Reviews who gave them the award for Top 10 Film. Amongst the nominations, they were nominated for an academy award for Best Music or Original Music or Comedy Score. It was also nominated for five golden globes which included Best Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Motion Picture. 

Some fun facts about the movie from IMDB is that the phone number that the president gives Sydney actually has the wrong area code for Washington DC. At the time, President Bill Clinton and his staff granted permission for the cast and production design team to visit the White House on five separate occasions. The writer for The American President, would go on and write a drama TV show called The West Wing which is also a TV show based in the White House. 

I think that this is the first film that I was kind of disappointed with. I should mention I’m not really one for drama romance. I felt like the plot was rushed, but I understand it because maybe they were trying to emulate how a president is on an average day. What I did notice was that the ending was very rushed because they spent so much time establishing the problem and the relationship, that they didn’t have a climax till the last 30 mins in a two and a half hour movie. Some of the lines are also a little cringy, but I excuse that with the age of the film.

Michael Douglas plays president Shepherd in The American President. Image credit to Indie Wire.

The performance by Michael Douglas as the sly president was surprisingly good. I’ve only seen Michael Douglas in Ant Man, but he really owned this character. Another notable performance is from Michael J. Fox who was Lewis Rothschild, his character was worried about the relationship between the president and Sydney.  I think my favorite character was Janie Baslin who was played by Samantha Mathis. She’s the president’s personal assistant and she really plays the stereotypical assistant and I really liked it. 

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It might not be my taste but if you love rebellious romances and politics, you’re sure to like The American President. 

Do you have any recommendations on what films I should look into next? Send your suggestions to [email protected]