"The American President" is not far from the fantasy stakes of "Dave" and is pleasingly no less enjoyable or feel-good for it either. The emphasis is heavier on romance than comedy, but all concerned exude a warm humour that harks back to older, gentler films.
President Andrew Sheperd (Douglas) is as popular with his staff as with the country that gives him a 63% approval rating in the polls. He's surrounded by advisors that keep his life scheduled to the last detail, including fitting in plenty of time for his daughter. All would appear to be well, except that as a widower who is also the President of the United States, he's somewhat restricted in his ability to start dating.
Besides, after three years in office he has to concentrate on re-election by focusing on keeping both the public and Congress happy. This is where he runs up against Sydney Ellen Wade (Annette Bening), who is lobbying hard for a bill that calls for a 20% reduction in fossil fuels as opposed to his politically safer 10%.
He tries to diffuse her campaign with lashings of charm. But while not backing down on her stance, she is suitably enamoured with his personality, as is he with hers. It's a good plot move as it allows not only for romance to blossom, but also for professional and political implications to add tension to the affair.
Director Rob Reiner strikes a good balance between drama and old-fashioned love with Douglas and Bening suitably understated in their roles. Surrounding them is superb supporting cast that allow wonderful moments of humour, with Michael J Fox and Martin Sheen particularly good fun to watch.