The American President Parent Guide
This rom-com manages to nail both halves of the genre: it's a laugh-out-loud love story.
Parent Movie Review
President Andrew Shepherd (Michael Douglas) has been in office for three years and is riding high in the polls. Buoyed up by his public support, he’s determined to bring gun control and climate change bills to Congress to cement his legacy and launch his re-election campaign. And then he falls in love…
Sydney Ellen Wade (Annette Bening) is a professional political operative who has finally reached the pinnacle of a lobbyist’s career. After years of closing deals in statehouses, she’s been retained by an environmental group to lobby for a bill that would mandate a 20% reduction in greenhouse gases – double the goals of the President’s bill. She’s stubborn, feisty, opinionated, and apparently irresistible to President Shepherd.
If you think this movie sounds like a liberal fantasy, you’d be right. But you don’t have to share its liberal political perspective to have a whale of a good time watching it. Although it’s written by Aaron Sorkin and feels a lot like a pilot for The West Wing, this filmis basically a rom-com that happens to take place in a political context. And its themes aren’t global warming and gun control – they’re honesty, integrity, courage, and love.
The American President manages to nail both halves of the rom-com genre: it’s a romance and a very funny comedy. From its predictably awkward meet-cute to the hilarity of watching the widowed President phone a woman for a date, only to have her not believe his identity, this is a movie that will have you laughing throughout its nearly two hour runtime. It also goes a bit deeper than the standard genre film and asks questions about privacy and what limits to privacy presidents, politicians, and other public figures should expect. President Shepherd stubbornly refuses to publicly address his relationship with Sydney, despite the prescient warnings of his staff. In a heated exchange with Shepherd, staffer Lewis Rothschild (Michael J Fox) insists that “in this country it is not only permissible to question our leaders, it’s our responsibility!”
Parents will question the need for the negative content in this film, particularly the nearly two dozen swear words (including three sexual expletives in a non-sexual context). Depending on their values, parents might also wince at the sexual innuendo and implied sexual relationship between an unmarried couple, although they will be relieved that the movie does not feature any nudity, scenes in bed, or explicit sexual language.
Negative content aside, The American President puts some positive messages on the ballot. It depicts the consequences of betraying your convictions and those who trust you. It shows the need to work hard for what you believe in. And it demonstrates the need for integrity in both personal and public spheres. Now that’s a platform that everyone can vote for in any year.Directed by Rob Reiner. Starring Michael Douglas, Annette Benning, and Martin Sheen. Running time: 113 minutes. Updated May 23, 2020
Watch the trailer for The American President
The American President
Rating & Content Info
Why is The American President rated PG-13? The American President is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for some strong language.
Violence: None noted.
Sexual Content: A man and woman kiss and embrace on several occasions. A woman walks into a man’s bedroom wearing his shirt. There is an implied sexual relationship between an unmarried man and woman. A man implies that a woman has traded sexual favors for career advancement.
Profanity: There are just under two dozen profanities in the film, with three sexual expletives, one slang term for sex, six scatological curses, five anatomical expressions, two terms of deity and five minor swear words. Them word “whore” is used.
Alcohol / Drug Use: There is minor social drinking involving main characters.
Page last updated May 23, 2020
The American President Parents' Guide
Do you agree that we have a responsibility to question our leaders? Why is this important in a democracy?
President Shepherd argues that his opponent uses fear to manipulate voters into supporting him. Have you ever seen a politician use fear to earn political support? What fears did he or she focus on? Why is using fear an effective method of mobilizing political support?
If you could meet the President, what policies would you encourage him (or her) to support? Why is this issue important to you?
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The president’s daughter longs to escape the White House and have a normal college experience in First Daughter. Another president’s daughter is the center of the story when she goes AWOL in Europe in Chasing Liberty.
Lee Daniels’ The Butler goes behind the scenes in the White House to tell real life stories of families in the White House.