The American President – Review


You’d expect quite a lot with the promise that a script from Aaron Sorkin can imply but The American President is a perfect example of material where I’m not so sure he’s well-suited. I’ve been a fan of the writer especially when it comes to how quickly he writes down the dialogue to his films for they always move at rapid fire and while those specific Sorkin trademarks are present, there are moments to which The American President are more interesting than most of what’s left behind but as it stands, I was simply left cold with what I received.

Michael Douglas and Annette Bening romancing within the political system in The American President.

I’m not exactly convinced that romantic comedy is the best sort of territory for a writer like Aaron Sorkin to tackle, because even with his fascinating pictures of the political systems running about, The American President is quite surprisingly rather unmemorable when you come to consider that for all the interesting scenarios taking place on the screen with Sorkin’s own willingness to divert into the examining of political territory but given the core of the film being a romantic comedy, it’s a shame that Sorkin’s usual trademarks can’t make this element as compelling as it could have possibly been.

Although I usually would be one to trust Aaron Sorkin’s writing, I think that there’s an extent to which a director like Rob Reiner is placing so much ham-fisted melodrama into the mix. It’s especially apparent towards the ending of the film, where it can head to rather highly sentimental territory, but a good amount of the film remains mature enough especially when we come to consider how Aaron Sorkin handles political tension, as it should be noted as this was supposedly a test run for his television series The West Wing, and since I’ve actually never seen a single episode of it (I’ve been quite impressed with what I caught of The Newsroom), this actually has me interested in watching the series at some point.

Despite some obvious falters taking place, where The American President still triumphs can arise from how dedicated the actors are to their roles. Michael Douglas and Annette Bening have a perfect chemistry between one another and there’s a sense of likability being formed whenever they share a moment together. Martin Sheen and Michael J. Fox are also part of the ensemble which is formed here and they’re great to watch on the screen too, but it’s really quite a shame that what should have been much more compelling at least given the context, feels rather hammed down all because of the film’s choice to overdo sentimentality and melodrama.

At least if there’s something to love about The American President, Marc Shaiman’s score is absolutely phenomenal. Unfortunately at best The American President really is what some would be saying, it’s merely a test run for Aaron Sorkin’s The West Wing (which I’m sure is a lot better) and it’s not really very memorable. Despite there being a lot to admire about how dedicated the actors are together with the excellent dialogue coming from a script penned by Sorkin, all that’s really left to be said was that it really should have been a more compelling product than it stands right now.

Watch the trailer right here.

All images via Columbia Pictures.

Directed by Rob Reiner
Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin
Produced by Rob Reiner
Starring Michael Douglas, Annette Bening, Martin Sheen, Michael J. Fox, Richard Dreyfuss
Release Year: 1995
Running Time: 114 minutes


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