American President, The (1995): Bob Reiner’s Romantic Comedy, Starring Michael Douglas and Annette Bening

Bob Reiner’s The American President, a light, fluffy, romantic comedy, raises a different set of questions.  The movie suffers from an overdose of hype by the industry; long before it was released it was rumored to be a blockbuster.  But it opened to largely mixed reviews and generated only mediocre response at the box-office.

The movie may be too timely for its own good.  The president, played with charm by the handsome star Michael Douglas, is modeled on such Democratic leaders as Kennedy and more specifically Bill Clinton, the current incumbent.

Aaron Sorkin’s scenario is serviceable, but not particularly sharp or inspired, in terms of such TV series as “The West Wing,” or his own later work, “The Social Network”).

There is good chemistry between Douglas and Annette Bening, and Reiner has cast the supporting roles with terrific actors, beginning with Martin Sheen, Richard Dreyfuss, David Peymar, Michael J. Fox.

Will the Academy voters honor a fantasy film, in the Frank Capra tradition, about honest American politicians at these cynical times?  Will the Academy champion a film that not many people saw?

The movie offers pleasures of seeing an idealized version of a U.S. President, who basically has no flaws. He is an effective chief of staff, nice to his employees, and, as a widower, he is also a good, responsible father to his only daughter, Lucy.