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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Movie Review: The Reagans

The Reagans
Sony Pictures Television
180 mins

I originally decided to watch this movie because I had recently read that the new mini-series about the Kennedy family was causing a frenzy in the media and subsequently found out that this movie had the same scenario happen when it was pulled from mainstream TV. It eventually found a home on Showtime. I decided that I wanted to see the movie for myself and see what all of the fuss was about.

The controversy surrounding this film was based primarily on the characterization of Ronald Reagan. Conservatives believed it was an unfair portrayal of the former President; CBS (who was going to air the film originally) claimed that they got a political film instead of a love story with political elements. People, including Regan’s surviving children, were up in arms about words that were being put in the president’s mouth.

This movie is not about the entire life of Ronald Reagan – it covers from just before he met Nancy to just as he is leaving the White House. We really learn very little about their backgrounds. I found that it really focuses on their relationship and how the political atmosphere affected their relationship. It is less of a story about his political decisions – although that is covered to some extent (how could it not?). The political part that most stood out to me was that they seemed to constantly be point out that he was a Democrat but they wanted him to be a Republican.

Now mind you, I was only just born during the very end of Reagan’s presidency and I really don’t know much about it at all, as it was only vaguely touched upon in school. There were points in the film that I was a little confused as to what was going on. They seemed to jump into events without giving too much (if any) preface – it was as if you should already be familiar with these things. I think that this was a weak point for this show because it puts a wall up for the younger generation (like me) that didn’t really live through this time. I also cannot comment on how accurate the portrayal of the president is because of my limited knowledge.

While I think the movie did a good job of showing the devotion to each other that these two people had, I think they may have missed their mark with the portrayal of Nancy Reagan (please correct me if I’m wrong!). I didn’t find her likeable, as a character, versus what I know of her as a person. They made her out to seem overreaching, controlling, and basically a little shrewish. She was made out to be all about her image. I just didn’t find this to be that believable. The film did touch on the idea that the President began suffering from early Alzheimer’s while he was in the White House. While I certainly don’t know if that is true or not, I think it was portrayed very believably. I think in the casting department they did a great job – the characters looked fantastic.

There was some great classic television clips included in the film: Nixon resigning, the JFK funeral, some Johnny Carson clips. I thought that those events were integrated very well into the show. There was also some incredible dramatization – and I mean that to be “very dramatized” not, “absolutely awesome”. Case in point – the assassination attempt on President Reagan.

While I wouldn’t say this was my favorite film of this type, this was certainly valuable to me. Even if the portrayal of the people was off, I learned something about the events that took place in the US history at that time. I would recommend this to others to watch, but with the caveat that you do some historical research to supplement it as well.

Copyright © 2011 by The Maiden’s Court


  1. It sounds like a great movie. Two weeks ago I bought a magazine about Reagan. Very interesting to read how he turned from actor into president. :)

  2. Nina - I think it is so interesting how you can go from one thing to another - you would think they were two very different things.


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