Tired of political pundits’ constant need to put a narrative spin on the current election cycle? Turn to Hollywood to do fiction right. Here are some great election-themed movies to celebrate the occasion.
The American President
Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin’s warm-up for “The West Wing,” this endlessly charming romantic comedy shows that Sorkin has heart aplenty to match his mouth.
A crinkly-eyed and surprisingly suave Michael Douglas stars as the titular commander-in-chief, while Annette Benning shines as the lobbyist with whom he loves, fights, and does the rom-com tango. Despite the genre’s clichés, the movie is more than salvaged by the believably easy chemistry of the leads and a rat-a-tat rapport shared by Douglas’ POTUS and a staff played by the likes of Martin Sheen and an in-his-yuppie-prime Michael J. Fox.
Oh, and there’s an election. Almost earnestly optimistic about government, this film is an undeniable delight.
Warning: this film is the anti-feel-good experience.
With protagonists who do horrible deeds that go largely unpunished, it’ll leave a bit of a sour taste behind. Fortunately, this dark comedy happens to be hilarious. It also serves as a showcase for Reese Witherspoon, starring as Tracy Flick, the over-ambitious high school student who is a bit too familiar for comfort.
As Tracy stoops to increasingly desperate means to become class president - we all know how good it will on her college applications - Mr. McAllister, played by a wonderfully weasily Matthew Broderick, tries to take her down. The movie is a glorious exercise in hate-watching.
It may not feature an actual election, but this comedy’s revisionist retelling of the Watergate scandal is worth a watch anyways.
Kirsten Dunst and Michelle Williams star as Betsy Jobs and Arlene Lorenzo, respectively, two D.C. area teens in the 70s whose frequent ditziness won’t stop you from wanting to be their new best friends. A chance run-in with some real C.R.E.E.Ps at the notorious Watergate Hotel culminates in a faux American history changed forever by a spurned teen crush on Richard Nixon.
If the laughs in the movie aren’t enough, this fake might at least make you feel better about the real thing.
My Date with the President’s Daughter
If this film was only the Disney Chanel movie with Eric from “Boy Meets World,” it would still be plenty. But it’s also a heck of a lot of fun.
Essentially a madcap adventure that all goes down on one crazy night, the movie follows the plot of its self-explanatory title and barely even bothers with conflict. It also breaks the depressing Disney trend of obligatory parental tragedy, with both romantic leads having fully formed and loving families, a nice and increasingly rare touch. The easy joyousness of this viewing experience makes it a must-see in a contentious political climate.
There is also a rockin’ title song that is guaranteed to be in your head for days.