A pre-Lewinski, Camelot-tinged story that remains charming several presidents and much Oval Office boorishness later. Widowed President Andrew Shepherd (Michael Douglas) lives in the White House with wiseacre daughter Lucy. The incomparable Annette Bening is lobbyist and activist Sydney Ellen Wade. He’s a little stuffy. She’s determined to dodge Washington cynicism. All that collapses when the two meet and begin behaving like smitten teenagers. Director Rob Reiner won’t let his project succumb to the temptations of the mawkish.
How’s he do it? For starters, the president’s foil is chief-of-staff is A.J. McInerney, played by… Martin Sheen. And who wrote the movie? Aaron Sorkin. The same Sorkin whose next project, TV’s “The West Wing,” promoted Sheen to Shepherd’s spot. No wonder Reiner’s planets aligned.
Richard Dreyfuss is delicious as a senator who’d like to make the romance into an undoing. Douglas is, well, Douglas — peddling that boyish smile. This is unadulterated fantasy for adults who can suspend cynicism long enough to re-imagine liberalism and style holding hands in the back seat. Now, on to Barack.