A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Sydney and Andrew (both unmarried) sleep together on their second date. Andrew's wife died of cancer, leaving him to raise his daughter alone, which may sadden teens who've lost a parent. There's some minimal cursing, and political rival Robert Rumson is quick to accuse Sydney of being a slut on national television. There's a lot of potential for mean-spirited digs in this film, and some of them are taken, but mostly it's an uplifting romantic comedy in which the president learns to stand up for what he believes in rather than sticking to what makes him popular.
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What's the story?
It's hard to imagine a world in which an American president is single and dating, let alone standing up for what he believes in the face of downward-spiraling polls before an election year. But that's the world viewers get to escape to in this romantic comedy. It's three years into Andrew Shepard's (Michael Douglas) first term, and he's never been more popular or more ready for re-election. All is well until star lobbyist Sydney Ellen Wade (Annette Bening) comes into the picture. The couple starts dating, and soon they have to face some hard realities. Can their relationship stand up to constant rumors and innuendo proffered by Andrew's opponent, Robert Rumson (Richard Dreyfuss)? And can Andrew keep his promise to Sydney when his approval rating slips?
Is it any good?
This is a delightful romantic comedy. Viewers of all ages will likely be able to relate to the president's conflict -- especially when it's resolved with the help of great dialogue from Aaron Sorkin, who went on to write The West Wing.
Romantics will love Andrew's decision and the goofy way the president behaves around Sydney. For girls, Sydney provides a great model of how to be a strong, compassionate, and powerful woman.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the similarities between the behaviors of the characters in the movie and kids in high school: the mean-spirited gossip, the flirting, the struggle between being cool and having integrity. Has anyone in your family faced these challenges? How did you decide what to do? What would you have done if you were in Andrew's shoes, or in Sydney's?
- In theaters: October 2, 1995
- On DVD or streaming: August 31, 1999
- Cast: Annette Bening, Michael Douglas, Michael J. Fox
- Director: Rob Reiner
- Studio: Castle Rock Entertainment
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 115 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sexual content and thematic intensity.
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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