It only makes sense that most powerful office in the nation would make its way into films from time to time. Once in a while we will get the actual president at the time, but usuall the script will make up a president out of the blue. Sometimes the president is a character meant to move the plot along (like in Armageddon when the president decides to use a nuclear bomb even though everyone tells him itâ€™s a bad idea). But other times the president is the central characters that the entire film is based on. Today I wanted to talk about my five favorite movie presidents. By the way, I am not including any â€œevilâ€ or â€œbad guyâ€ presidents in this list.
#5. President Henry Ashton (William Hurt, Vantage Point)
This is a case of the actor doing a lot with what is really a minor role. When we first see the president we see him being goofy, and then he gets shot. We finally realize that this isnâ€™t the real president at all but a double. When we meet the real president, William Hurt plays him so differently. This president is serious and aware of what is going on around him. When he is kidnapped he tries to escape, rather than just rolling over and waiting to be rescued. I loved this movie, mostly because I am a sucker for the gimmick this film is centered around, but William Hurt really surprised me in this film taking a throw away character and making him one of the stronger characters in the entire movie.
#4. President David Kovic aka William Harrison Mitchell (Kevin Kline, Dave)
I am listing this high for several reasons. One, I have already talked about this movie and what a nice little film this is. Second, David is never really the president as he impersonates President Mitchell through the film. Third, this is a very sugary look at the presidency. If one were to watch this movie one would think that all the president does is make public appearances and pose for pictures. Now I am not trying to take anything away from this film, it is has always been a favorite film of mine, but this movie is so made up itâ€™s almost a fairy tale. Is there anything wrong with that? Of course not. But I guess David Kovic plays the kind of president we would like to get, one who cares more about people than what is popular. Maybe thatâ€™s why this film did so well. I think it also works because the actors really seem to be trying, even if it is a silly little film, including Charles Grodin who as a I said before really males the most of a small role.
#3. President Thomas Whitmore (Bill Pullman, Independence Day)
Am I the only person who kind of likes Bill Pullmanâ€™s character in this movie? Now I am not suggesting that it isnâ€™t kind of corny, but then again the whole film is kind of corny. Thomas Whitmore is a very young president, former fighter pilot in the gulf war who is now a wimpy sort of commander in chief. However as the movie unfolds he finds that strength to really lead. I actually like his speech he gives near the end, corny as it may be, and I think he is one of the more believable characters in the film. Yes, the idea of the president flying off to save the day is a bit nuts (especially with no vice president or active government), but hey if we can accept aliens demolishing our landmarks and the cable guy being the one and only person who can figure out how to stop these aliens, then why not accept the president leading the fighter jets on a final strike?
#2. President James Marshall (Harrison Ford, Air Force One)
Those who follow me will know I am not a huge action fan. However, there are some action films I did like. Speed, In The Line of Fire, Face Offâ€¦â€¦and Air Force One. How could you not love the performance that Harrison Ford gives in this movie? It is just so awesome to see a president step up and kick some ass, even if it is unbelievable. However this film does a pretty good job trying to make us believe the situations, that Air Force One has been hijacked by the Soviets, including having Glen Close as a very strong vice president (in most of these films the vice president is either missing or hardly in it, so this was a nice change of pace). This movie is full of thrills and action, and of course gave us that memorable line â€œGet off my plane!â€
#1. President Andrew Sheppard (Michael Douglas, The American President)
This is the top spot because I think this may be one of the more faithful versions of a president we have gotten on screen. He isnâ€™t an action star, a helpless victim, or a goofball who has no idea what heâ€™s doing. In a lot of ways he takes the best aspects of all the men I already listed but in enough quantities to make him believable and likable. We see that the job is not always easy and involves tough choices. This is really just a little Rob Reiner romantic comedy but itâ€™s one of my favorite movies. We get a real feel for how the presidency works in this movie, and itâ€™s no shock to find out that Aaron Sorkin wrote this little screenplay. Bet you canâ€™t get what TV series he created shortly after this? Annette Benning is also a very convincing love interest, not coming on to strong or to corny.Â Â Â Â The romance is believable. Rounding out the cast we have Martin Sheen and Michael J. Fox in one of his more overlooked roles. Andrew Sheppard is a good man who loves his country. One great thing about this film is the character arc he goes through, through the movie is afraid of challenging his opponent but it isnâ€™t until after everything has fallen apart he realizes he has to step up, and does in one of the best speeches in any movie (donâ€™t believe me? Check it out). If I had to choose one of these characters to be an actual president, it would be this one. Michael Douglas did a great job with the character, and as I noted this is one of my favorite movies ever.
I know people will be screaming that I did not include Morgan Freeman on here. Truth is I have never seen Deep Impact, but have heard Morgan Freeman did a fantastic job as President Beck. Jack Nicholson was great in Mars Attacks as President Dale but I hated that movie so hard I couldnâ€™t even sit through it. While I am of course talking movies here, I had to give a passing reference to President Bartlet played by Martin Sheen on The West Wing which was a great show which I sadly did not see as often as I should have.