Classic Intel: The American President - DVD Review

'blends stately presidential philosophising with a rather attractive love story and a dastardly sense of humour'

Directed by Rob Reiner, the man who has shown several levels to his sense of humour with This Is Spinal Tap, The Princess Bride and When Harry Met Sally, The American President is unsurprisingly a film with a great deal more wit and snappy dialogue than it had any right to be. A rather atypical tale of forbidden love, this time centering on Michael Douglas' widowed United States President and passionate lobbyer Annette Benning, Reiner's film motors along at a heady pace for the most part, its occasionally genius script all but eclipsing the clich├ęd pitfalls its synopsis suggests.

All of which is almost entirely due to the near-ensemble cast which Reiner assembles, supporting Douglas and Benning with none other than future fictional president Martin Sheen as well as Michael J. Fox, Anna Deavere Smith, David Paymer and the always welcome, Richard Dreyfuss. Douglas and Benning have the chemistry and the former the best lines as charming President Andrew Shepherd but the morality of the presidency is all left to Fox and Sheen, the perfect duo to shout about things to do with loyalty, friendship and the constitution.

Reiner manages all of this with the deft hand of a director who had already made all of the previously mentioned films, as well as A Few Good Men, by the time this hit in 1995. Managing a presidential family as well as strong opposition from Dreyfuss' weasel-like senator, Reiner creates interest in places where there previously was none, magicking up the now-famous rallying speech from Shepherd and the iconic dance which signals the start of the Douglas/Benning relationship.

Towards the end, The American President starts to run out of gas and even in the back-stabbing world of politics, it becomes difficult to believe some of the reactions to Shepherd's new found love. Reiner doesn't make this any easier to take either, piling on Marc Shaiman's Oscar nominated score whilst increasing the gloom level with near-constant mood reflecting rainstorms. It's one of his few miss-steps and momentum is regained with Shepherd's speech in a film which successfully blends stately presidential philosophising with a rather attractive love story and a dastardly sense of humour. Like the two leads, this may have aged slightly, but it's still, really rather attractive.

Look further...

'If only Obama was as cool as Michael Douglas' - Dan The Man's Movie Reviews, 8.5/10

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