The American President
This earnest, intelligent, and well-written romantic comedy is enjoyable and optimistic in classic Hollywood style, even if its idealism doesn't seem quite so credible against the cynical political backdrop of the Nineties. President Andrew Shepherd (Michael Douglas), an unabashedly liberal Democrat, is just gearing up for re-election when he meets an attractive and sharp environmental lobbyist named Sydney Wade (Annette Bening). The two fall in love and the President must soon deal with the political repercussions (Sydney is trying to get legislation through Congress), as well as the cynical machinations of Republican opponent Senator Bob Rumson (Richard Dreyfuss), who attempts to paint Sydney as a radical and use "family values" rhetoric to smear Shepherd. With the attacks affecting his standings in the all-important polls, and his love's legislation causing him headaches in the Capitol, Shepherd must decide whether he can risk continuing his relationship. A rich supporting cast, solid characterizations by Douglas and Bening, and an articulate approach make this an appealing, if not particularly weighty, study of the tensions between public and private life.