Like the popular Dave, but with none of that film’s charm and verve, Rob Reiner’s new movie caters—panders—to a powerful American wish for a President who really means to control handguns and save forests. More a series of speaking engagements than a movie, The American President has some sharp if unoriginal things to say about the political process. But the more momentous question it poses is, Can the President date? The answer is no, no, no, yes. Conveniently widowed, the folksy Andy (Michael Douglas) gets into hot water with his Gramm-ish rival (Richard Dreyfuss) and his own handlers (Michael J. Fox is good in the Stephanopoulos role), ably abetted by the media, when he starts dating feisty environmental lobbyist Sydney Wade (Annette Bening). Visually the film is deadly dull, but its worst problem is central miscasting. Bening, who works best as a forties vamp (Bugsy) or a sexy minx (The Gripers), is wasted in a role that calls for her to do little more than the old blush-anddimple, while Douglas, who’d be excellent as a realistic President, is plain unbelievable as a nice chap. I kept waiting for him to show his rotten side.