Aparna (inspirethoughts) wrote,

Movie Critique 2016 – 08/27/2016: The American President

Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a movie review.
Prologue: Go here.

Stars:  5 / 5
Recommendation: Political drama with comedy and romance all tied up neatly and happening in the Oval Office to charm you every second along the way.

During the month of August when one of my brother and his family were here in CT visiting me and my parents, one of the trip we took was to Washington D. C. Although we had been there before, we hadn't been inside the White House. This year we got the chance to be inside, thanks to the President's approval of the invitation. We had a great time going through the East Wing of the White House. My nephews had such thrill going thru the rooms, knowing the history, and knowing different presidents and understanding the key events during their presidency. One of the room that we were shown was the China Room. Although we weren't allowed inside the room we did get a glimpse of the room. That room reminded me of the "Dish Room" comment by President Andrew "Andy" Shepherd in the 1995 American romantic comedy-drama The American President.

And here is the dish room that I took picture of.

Well, there you go, the reason for me to post review of this movie for this particular day.

The film starred Michael Douglas on the title role, with Annette Benning as Sydney Ellen Wade - a closer hired by environmental lobbying company Global Defense Council (GDC) to convince the president in getting 20% reduction of CO2 emissions - Martin Sheen as A. J. MacInerney - White House Chief of Staff - Michael J. Fox as Lewis Rothschild - Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy - Shawna Waldron as Lucy Shepherd, Richard Dreyfuss as Senator Bob Rumson - President's Republican opponent from Kansas.

The movie opens with the President Andrew "Andy" Shepherd preparing for a re-election and already has a 63% approval rating when he along with his Chief of Staff, A. J. pass a moderate crime control bill that is still being looked at by both parties with leery. Sydney Ellen Wade is hired by GDC to convince president in getting 20% reduction of CO2 emissions. While Lewis Rothschild is trying to have President use the 63% approval rating to go against the Gun Crime rather than General Crime. Providing an appropriate attack response to Libya. In the midst of all of this the attraction between Andy and Sydney increases and unfolds into a full-fledged romance much to the delight of the opposite leader Richard Dreyfuss who doesn’t hesitate in smearing Sydney's name in whatever way he wants. The plot continues with Sydney and Andy trying in their own way to get the CO2 emission bill passed, fighting the character attack by the opponents and at the same time working towards a win in the election year.

Each and every actor fit perfectly in their roles. The dialogues have a perfect timing that has comedy with an underlay of seriousness of the issues being highlighted. Gun Crime is always a serious business and so is smearing on characters or attacking another country because everyone expects him to or struggling to understand the virtue of proportionate response or courting between Sydney and Andy. Gives you an insight into how much a president carries on his shoulders when ruling a country.
Samantha Mathis as Jane Basdin, Personal Aide to the President, fits the role so perfectly. Her witty comments and timely tips to President about his staff makes us think of him as human.

More regular person traits can be seen when the President tries to call a local florist - Carmen House of Flowers - to send flowers to Sydney. The whole dialogue leading up to the incident is very comical. Here is the scene:

And then later he jumps off his car to go into the same flower shop to order again, but of no luck.

The final speech in the movie is the icing on the cake.

The first time I saw this movie which was perhaps 10 years ago on television, it made me think that the role Michael Douglas played as the president was too good to be true. How ironic that Michael Douglas plays a Democratic President in the movie. Very Very too good to be true. I have not heard of a president who would be so down to earth, humorous, handsome, very matriculate while taking decisions of many lives on both domestic and foreign soils, sympathetic even to the foes, devoted parent, keeping personal and public lives as separate as possible, spur of the moment decisions to drive his staff crazy in a good way and above all a people person. A very fantasy and fictional person who exists only in books, movies and in dreams. Until Barack Obama became the President. It will be really sad to see him leave come 2017, a marvelous man to be ruling the free world, his amazing wife Michelle and gem of kids. I don’t know if I will get to see such a person and a family in my lifetime again.

Although I am posting this way behind in my schedule, so many of the scenes shown in the movie play into the real politics that I recently watched when two candidates were running for president. It has been 21 years since this movie released, and so much of what is shown holds true to the current date. For some reason I feel that this movie has been made as a precognition of Barack Obama's ruling and the following 2016 Presidential elections at his term end. Anyways, this is a movie I thoroughly enjoyed watching then and continually enjoy the movie anytime it plays on television. If you haven't yet, I would suggest go ahead and watch it.
Spoiler Alerts:

1) For Aaron Sorkin the script writer of the movie, the writing experience resulted in two hit TV shows:
a. Sports Night that he conjured up when watching ESPNs Sports Center in between his writing bouts.
b. The West Wing, a political drama series aired on NBC, which included scenes that were deleted from his script of The American President. Incidentally Martin Sheen played the role of Josiah Bartlet as the President of United States. There is a conversation between Andy Shepherd and A. J. in the movie that goes as below.

President Andrew Shepherd: Because it occurs to me that in twenty five years I've never seen YOUR name on a ballot. Now why is that? Why are you always one step behind ME?
A.J.: Because if I wasn't, you'd be the most popular history teacher at the University of Wisconsin!

How ironic that he becomes The President in The West Wing series. Clearly Andrew Shepherd never ran for President in this parallel world. :)

2) President gifts his daughter Lucy with the book titled Understanding the Constitution.
3) And the President is a Packers fan. Woo! Hoo!
4) I didn’t relate Richard Dreyfuss to the role Roy Neary from the 1977 film Close Encounters of the Third Kind until I saw that movie again recently.
5) The White House setting including the Oval Office had been used in later movies - Nixon and Independence Day.
6) Wendie Malick portrays the role of Susan Sloan, the rival colleague of Sydney Ellen Wade. However I remember seeing her later in many movies and TV shows.

7) Thom Barry had a role as the guard at the entrance of the White House. You may remember him for his role as Will Jeffries, a senior detective in the American police procedural drama Cold Case that aired on CBS between 2003 and 2010.

8) Martin Sheen had made his initial appearance in an episode of Columbo titled Lovely But Lethal in 1973. He portray the role of an arrogant scientist who gets murdered and his murder is what Columbo solves. He is as charming as he is in that long ago TV movie as in this movie as he is even now.

9) Anne Haney portraying the role of Mrs. Chapel - Secretary to the President of the United States - also appeared in an episode of Columbo titled Agenda for Murder in 1990. She plays the role of Louise, secretary to Oscar Finch, a famous lawyer on road to become the next Attorney General. Here she in this movie:

And here is the episode from Colubo:

10) Nina Siemaszko portrayed the role of Beth Wade, Sydney's sister in this movie. However I remember her for the role of Cassie Hillman in the Mystery Woman series that aired on Hallmark channel between 2003 and 2007.

11) Here are a few pics from our memorable trip to the White House.

Tags: critique by amateur, family, movies, reviews, travels, vacations

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