‘The American President’ promises laughs, romance

One of the best contemporary romantic comedies in years is showing this week at the Orpheum.

Mix laughter, romance and political intrigue and what do you get? This week’s film at the Orpheum Theatre, “The American President.” This enchanting film stars Michael Douglas as a young widowed president (Andrew Shepherd) and Annette Bening (Sydney Ellen Wade) as an environmental lobbyist.

The president falls in love with Bening when he first meets her. Like any older widowed man, he is unsure as to the dating protocol. Fortunately, he has a brilliant teenage daughter played wonderfully by newcomer Shawna Waldron, who can offer some great advice to her dad on his first date in a couple of decades.

The movie qualifies as a drama-comedy because the subject matter is serious as is the president’s agenda. The clumsiness of the newly dating couple, who decide to try and date secretly, is what makes the movie a comedy. The superb cast features Martin Sheen (presidential aide), Michael J. Fox (policy advisor) and Richard Dreyfuss. The Dreyfuss character, Sen. Bob Rumson, is a presidential hopeful and is waiting for the smallest crack in President Shepard’s stellar reputation to begin his assault on him for the next election. Another great role is played by veteran character actor David Paymer who acts as a staff member who tries to cushion the President against negative publicity. In addition, members of the supporting cast are given wonderfully funny lines throughout the movie.

The couple and the country struggle through some difficult times, but rest assured, all works out. This is a very sweet movie and one that most people will enjoy. It is rated PG-13, although I’m not sure why – perhaps because it is a romantic comedy and most 13 year olds aren’t interested in seeing it. However, anyone over 13 or a mature 13-year-old will find this film funny and poignant. This review doesn’t do this film justice because it is one of the best romantic comedies to come out in years. Check it out this week at the Orpheum.

For show times, call the movie hotline at 641-844-5007 or visit www.ivotc.com for more information and to view a film trailer. While you are visiting the Orpheum, don’t forget to check out the gallery and exhibit hall that features Iowa stage and film memorabilia and information.

Tom LaVille is a retired Marshalltown drama and literature teacher. LaVille’s Critic’s Corner column appears Friday in the Times-Republican.