Posted on 5/30/11 09:19 AM
President by day, widowed father by night, Andrew Shepherd (Michael Douglas) is young, handsome, popular, and the most powerful man on earth. He meets his match in Sydney Ellen Wade (Annette Bening), a political strategist who starts out on her latest project by insulting the president at a White House meeting, unaware he's standing behind her. She continues her trend by mistaking his phone call for a colleague and making further derogatory remarks. This however does not stop him from asking her to be his "plus one" for a formal state dinner. From such a romantic first date, their relationship can't help but progress further, as their first kiss is interrupted by a foreign affairs crisis, and they both face growing pressures at work about the time they're spending together. Enter scheming presidential contender Bob Rumson (Richard Dreyfuss), who senses his opportunity to use the president's girlfriend to rip his popularity ratings apart. The vultures continue to circle as the president and his girlfriend as they hide away in Camp David. Their obligatory bump in the road comes when Andrew sacrifices her environmental bill in order to get his own agenda through. He finally finds his voice again and gives a rousing speech, displaying all his leadership to its full effect, and winning back his popularity, keeping his integrity, and getting the girl too.
Directed by Rob Reiner and written by Aaron Sorkin, this plays like an early version of The West Wing, mostly to its benefit. The production and script are top-notch, making us believe this unlikely tale from beginning to end. The supporting cast is excellent, including Martin Sheen, Michael J. Fox, John Mahoney, and David Paymer. And the plot is appealing, given that we so rarely in our history have had a single man as president.
Overall, a practically-minded romantic fantasy and political drama that has something to please everyone.