With Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln getting a limited release this weekend, and the events of last Tuesday, it’s worth looking at some of cinema’s greatest presidents. And though it’s easy to fall back on those playing Lincoln, or W even, we love fake presidents even more. Here’s ten of our favorite.
10: The Fifth Element
Despite being in quite a wacky futuristic environment, President Lindberg (Tom Lister Jr.) is one of the most composed fictional presidents to ever, and keeps his cool through crazy world-ending problems. This president can make mistakes, like when he decides to go with a more violent form of action but when you’re trying to make sure that the world is protected from the Great Evil, you’ve got your hands full.
#9: Primary Colors
When you have a movie that’s loosely based off of Bill Clinton’s first time landing the presidential seat, you have to get the perfect actor for the role. And no one can charm like John Travolta, especially after his second (or third) comeback in the nineties which garnered him roles like playing the not-Clinton (wink, wink) Jack Stanton. Kathy Bates ended up getting nominated for an Oscars for this movie but it’s Travolta that makes the film work. .
#8: Deep Impact
Remember the 90′s, when having a black man play the president seemed like thoughtful but perhaps a little forced liberalism, instead of something that could be a reality? To be fair, Morgan Freeman easily has one of the most powerful and commanding voices in cinema. So back in the late nineties he was cast to play President Tom Beck as the calming voice that led the country through a natural disaster. With the help of a couple of unlikely heroes – including the president – the Earth was saved from total annihilation. Glad he went and gave a speech at the end of the movie to soothe the nation’s nerves. We feel more calm after re-watching the clip below ourselves.
#7: Air Force One
Since we’re dealing with relatively tough presidents, we can’t go on with a list like this without mentioning President James Marshall (Harrison Ford) in Air Force One. When you’re going up against one of the most menacing goatee-wearing terrorist thousands of feet above your country, it’s time to take matters into your own hands. He’s the President of the United States, he’s President Kick Ass, and if he wants you to get the hell off of his plane, then you better listen to what he says or else.
#6: Mars Attacks!
Can’t we all just get along? Perhaps as humans we can, but if you’re President James Dale (Jack Nicholson) it’s rather difficult to convince a bunch of Martians to settle on peace. Mars Attacks! is one of the most uneven yet still entertaining movies in Tim Burton’s career, and we love every second of it. Not to mention that it would be amazing if we had a president along the lines of Jack Nicholson’s character. Okay, so he doesn’t make it until the end but still, he does give one hell of a speech.
There’s a number of presidents on this list who would be best categorized as “badass,” and it all begins with President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho, played by Terry Crews in Idiocracy. Since he rules a rather stupid futuristic society in the Mike Judge film, he’s anything but qualified for the job, unless you call formerly being in porn as a qualification. At least unlike some other presidents, he’s willing to listen to other common citizens about how to properly change the nation he’s in charge of, even though he doesn’t understand what he’s doing half of the time. That and he’s got a killer head of hair and muscles on him. That’s a president that can definitely pummel anyone who tries to mess with his country.
#4: Independence Day
It’s one thing to go ahead and challenge terrorists who try and mess with peace in your country. It’s a completely different thing when you’re dealing with extraterrestrial beings who only want to communicate through blasting your heaviest populated cities from here to kingdom come. And did President Thomas J. Whitmore, played by Bill Pulman, sit down and let the disgusting-looking aliens from Independence Day go ahead and take over his nation? Of course not. He’d rather go ahead, hop in a jet and take care of the job himself. That and he gave one of the best fictional presidential speeches ever:
This has to be one of the sweetest fictional presidential films that popped up in the nineties (question: Does anybody else think it’s a little funny that the nineties were littered with fictional president-driven movies like this?) Ivan Reitman hit one out of the park with Kevin Kline in Dave. In the movie Kline plays Dave Kovic, a very good impersonator who turns into the President of the United States’ replacement when the POTUS falls under illness. From there he puts a little bit more humor back in America and makes them, and the President’s wife (Sigourney Weaver), smile a bit more.
#2: The American President
Who says a president doesn’t have the ability to love? This president not only has the ability to properly run his own country even in the face of election but manages to find true love along the way in The American President. Michael Douglas plays our strong and passionate fictional President Andrew Sheperd with strength and grace while dealing with all sorts of adversity in what is at times a rather underrated movie.
#1: Dr. Strangelove
President Merkin Muffley (Peter Sellers), is a very apologetic and quirky commander-in-chief. While Sellers did a phenomenal job with all three of his roles in Dr. Strangelove, we love this one individual character, and probably most of all because of the scene below. There’s a number of wonderfully hilarious moments in this Kubrick’s black comedy, but there isn’t much else that needs to be explained when you check out the clip below.
What are your favorite fictional presidents?