The American President


Generally favorable reviews - based on 21 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 21
  2. Negative: 0 out of 21

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Critic Reviews

  1. 100
    Watching The American President, I felt respect for the craft that went into it: the flawless re-creation of the physical world of the White House, the smart and accurate dialogue, the manipulation of the love story to tug our heartstrings.
  2. Reviewed by: Jack Kroll
    All this is good fun -- some of which is anticipating the pained reaction from conservative Hollywood-hasslers. Director Rob Reiner has a fine smooth touch, Douglas is charismatic, Bening is scrumptious -- you want to put all these dream politicos in a doggy bag and take them home. [20 Nov 1995, p.28]
  3. Time
    Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    As bustling and impassioned as the best Sturges and Capra movies, this one captures both the purposeful edginess of Administration Pooh-Bahs (Martin Sheen, Michael J. Fox, David Paymer and Samantha Mathis--nice jobs, all) and the isolation of the President. [20 Nov 1995, p.117]
  4. An old-fashioned movie. It is simplistic, full of stock characters and easy solutions to difficult problems, and I absolutely loved it.
  5. USA Today
    Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    A super cast injects it with Teddy Roosevelt vitality. [17 Nov 1995, p.D1]
  6. With great looks, a dandy supporting cast, a zinger-filled screenplay by Aaron Sorkin ("A Few Good Men") and Mr. Douglas twinkling merrily in the Oval Office, The American President is sunny enough to make the real Presidency pale by comparison.
  7. Reviewed by: Ian Nathan
    Of course it's hokey and silly, but Reiner really knows how to skirt potential schmaltz and there is a political backbone to the piece which gives it reassuring depth.
  8. 75
    It's a revamped Cinderella story with power as the aphrodisiac, and Douglas and Bening play it to the classy hilt. The courtship scenes in the film's lighter, more deft first half have the bounce of a moonstruck fable.
  9. In Sorkin's vision, this is what ought to happen when a political progressive occupies the White House -- provided he has principles, guts and more on his mind than voter-approval polls and re- election prospects.
  10. Michael Douglas and Annette Bening head the well-chosen cast, but what gives the movie substance is its willingness to take real stands on real political issues.
  11. Wittily scripted, engagingly sappy, completely implausible and unabashedly Capraesque, it's a rather wonderful crock.
  12. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Genial middle-brow fare that coasts a long way on the charm of its two stars
  13. The New Republic
    Reviewed by: Stanley Kauffmann
    But for those who can summon up the talismanic "what if," The American President provides chuckles and tingles, even a few sobs. [18 Dec 1995, p.28]
  14. In the end, the movie says that the President's private life matters, all right -- that Shepherd should get the girl and reestablish his leadership by giving in to the noble liberal he always was inside. Even for a modern Capra fable, that's a bit much to swallow.
  15. 63
    It comes across as painfully politically correct, offering trite sermons on various "hot-button" issues (gun control and the greenhouse effect). The narrative follows an unwavering by-the-numbers strategy with an ending that echoes the "cornball" of Al Pacino's climactic Scent of a Woman speech.
  16. A pleasant, inoffensive, and (quite properly) mindless diversion.
  17. Genial and entertaining if not notably inspired. But its most interesting aspect turns out to be fantasies of another kind, pipe dreams about the American political system and where it could theoretically be headed.
  18. 60
    Like Shepherd's speech, The American President touches on all manner of issues but illumines none of them. And while there are some engaging glimpses of the president's staff in action...the film's principal pleasures lie in the president's pursuit of a first lady.
  19. These days, when presidential bouquets are named Gennifer Flowers, and when we all know what Jack Kennedy did beneath the White House covers, this sort of Capra-corn, even in the guise of light comedy, just doesn't have the same taste. More salt, please, and hold the butter.
  20. Douglas's Chief Executive is no vote-getter; he's a charmless, irritating boob who can't even order flowers for a woman. With friends like Douglas and Reiner, Clinton doesn't need Rush Limbaugh.
  21. It's a shame that the movie whose coattails these wonderful actors are attached to is such an empty suit.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 20 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 4
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 4
  3. Negative: 0 out of 4
  1. Dec 31, 2012
    This is a well crafted motion picture from beginning to end. You can feel yourself going through time to a simpler time. The cast and theThis is a well crafted motion picture from beginning to end. You can feel yourself going through time to a simpler time. The cast and the acting that they do is perfect from top to bottom if there if a bottom. This movie is in my top ten along with Casablanca and Citizen Kane. Try this movie and I promise that you will not be disappointed. Full Review »
  2. May 3, 2011
    A fun political rom-com. As a huge fan of "The West Wing," I thought it was fun to see the film that started it all, but also had higherA fun political rom-com. As a huge fan of "The West Wing," I thought it was fun to see the film that started it all, but also had higher expectations of the dialogue and writing. It was also a little weird seeing Martin Sheen as the chief of staff. Full Review »
  3. peterd
    Oct 21, 2006
    Flawless romantic fantasy with all of the pleasure of being inside the presidency - later to be turned into the West Wing.