Written by Aaron Sorkin, The American President follows Michael Douglas’ Andrew Shepherd as he finds himself falling for a fetching lobbyist (Annette Bening’s Sydney Ellen Wade) and must subsequently deal with the fallout of their fledgling relationship. Filmmaker Rob Reiner has infused The American President with a breezy, compulsively watchable feel that’s perpetuated and heightened by the stars’ winning performances, with Douglas and Bening’s strong work matched by an almost impossibly appealing supporting cast that includes Martin Sheen, Samantha Mathis, Richard Dreyfuss, And Michael J. Fox. (The palpable chemistry between Douglas and Bening’s respective characters only adds to the throughly ingratiating atmosphere.) Sorkin does an effective job of balancing the narrative’s political bent with the more romcom-friendly elements inherent in the premise, and it’s clear, too, that The American President’s relevancy remains completely intact more than 20 years after its original theatrical release (ie there’s a lot of chatter revolving around gun control and the environment). The end result is a top-tier drama refreshingly geared towards adult audiences, with the picture’s success due in no small part to Reiner’s expert handling of the material (and to the actors’ efforts; douglas has legitimately never been more charming on film).
***1/2 out of ****