Saturday, November 28, 2009

The American President

Day 331 - 11/27/09 - Movie #331

BEFORE: Another film I've been trying to see for quite a while. Hey, I missed the news - did President Obama pardon a turkey yesterday? I know it's a grand symbolic tradition and all, but I was kind of hoping he'd be above all that. I mean, what's one turkey compared to the millions that get killed and eaten on Thanksgiving? Not that I care about turkey's rights - I just think the President should have more important things on his agenda.

THE PLOT: Comedy-drama about a widowed US president and a lobbyist who fall in love. It's all aboveboard, but "politics is perception" and sparks fly anyway.

AFTER: Ha! This film referenced both Thanksgiving AND "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington"! I love it when a plan comes together... And the assistant director was Frank Capra III, grandson of the director of last night's film. This was directed by Rob Reiner (who had a cameo in "Primary Colors") and written by Aaron Sorkin, who went on to create "The West Wing".

Similarities to "West Wing" abound, as the film balances President Shepard's (Michael Douglas) romance with a lobbyist (Annette Bening) with an attack on Libya, and a lot of those round-table discussions that made "West Wing" great. The presence of Martin Sheen as the president's chief of staff seals the deal.

Actually, this film is mostly about the romance and its affect on the president's chances re-election. This president is a widower with a 12-year old daughter, and when he starts dating, the Republican opposition, led by Sen. Rumson (Richard Dreyfuss, looking very Cheney-like) starts harping about "family values", and Shepard starts plunging in the polls.

It's a mostly charming film, especially when the President tries to buy flowers for his date, and can't seem to manage the simple feat without the help of his staff, or the Secret Service checking out the flower shop. But the inevitable conflicts arise when her environmental bill is sacrificed for his anti-crime bill...

Also starring Michael J. Fox and David Paymer as White House staffers, with Wendie Malick, John Mahoney, and Joshua Malina as various lobbyists.

RATING: 7 out of 10 china patterns

1 comment:

  1. This movie was supposedly responsible for "The West Wing" getting on the air. Sorkin's research for the film helped him to see the potential for a TV drama set in the White House. And a key part of his pitch was "...and pitch-perfect White House sets were built for the movie. We won't have to spend a penny for construction...we can just rent 'em!"

    This movie made me a little uncomfortable, though. It was like a "what if" universe in which Bartlet had become Chief of Staff instead of President. Ditto for Anna Deavere Smith and any other "West Wing"ers in the film. My brain kept thinking "Wait...why is the President standing on the other side of the desk? Is it supposed to be Boxing Day or something?"

    But that's my problem, not the film's.