It’s Movie Time: The American President

Newest in my venture to watch my movie collection in alphabetical(ish) order. To see other posts in the series, click here. As always, potential Spoiler Alert.

This is a chick flick. I am the second-last woman one would expect to own a chick flick. And yet here we have it … a chick flick. I once asked a friend of mine – who beats me out as the last woman one would expect to own a chick flick, as well as being a chick flick afficionado – if the fact that Annette Bening is in it lifts it out of chick flick territory. The answer was a resounding no, with Bening’s co-star Michael Douglas cited as the reason.

So here I am, rather bemusedly watching a chick flick.

Fun fact: If you give Ron enough beer, he’ll watch a chick flick with you. And I’m not sure there’s anything more fun in this world than giggling at the ludicrous nature of a chick flick with the absolute last person you’d expect while roaring drunk. It becomes even more entertaining when he’s one-eyeing it because, “There are two screens up there.” The fun does tail off when he falls asleep partway through, though.

No idea why that happened.

I don’t know why or when or where I saw this movie in the first place. I do, however, know why I keep coming back to it. It’s the language. I love the intricate sentences and the rapid-fire conversations, and just the general intelligence of the dialogue.

But this viewing, the first time I’ve watched it since Trump was elected, the escapist distraction of a silly rom-com was broken due to the very same language. Near the start of the movie, it’s revealed that President Shepherd (Michael Douglas) went off script during a speech the previous night, referring to the U.S. as a once-great society. My knee-jerk reaction to the phrase was … acute.

It’s interesting to see the reaction of Shepherd’s staff, taking him to task for implying that America is not, indeed, great. The movie makes it clear that such a suggestion would be unthinkable, and require significant damage control.

What a difference the 20 years between the movie’s release and Trump’s election made.

Of course, The American President was written by Aaron Sorkin, who is well known for his heavily political storylines. So perhaps it’s not surprising that it has a helluva lot more bite to it than your average mindless chick flick rom-com – along with more than a little apparent prophecy.

That’s pretty on the nose.

At one point during the film, Sydney (Annette Bening) asks the President, “How do you have patience for people who claim to love America but clearly can’t stand Americans?”

It’s a question many citizens of the United States would do well to answer before the upcoming election.

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