"I bought the "The Reagans" DVD about a week before Reagan passed away but didn't have a chance to watch it until after all the funeral ceremonies had concluded. After all the controversy that erupted over the film last November, I was expecting to see quite a horror-fest of a movie. Turns out it's nothing of the sort. Definitely not belittling or derogatory. Instead, it offers a sympathetic portrayal of a couple that left me liking the Reagans more than I did before I saw the film (and I liked them before anyway). There's no reason why this couldn't have shown on CBS. But if you ask me, I think the amount of subject matter covered warranted a far bigger budget and more time on a scale like "Angels in America" $60 million/6 hour miniseries and a cable channel like HBO that has the megabucks and the backbone to allow a filmmaker to make a truly quality film. Really, they were cramming 2 lifetimes of accomplishments into a 3 hr film.If you hold strong political beliefs leaning right or left about the Reagans, "The Reagans" isn't for you. What you want is either a tribute show with nothing but good to say or a show that's an indictment of the Reagan era, respectively. Go elsewhere to find those films. If you fall somewhere in between and aren't obsessed with political details, you might enjoy "The Reagans." It's an average TV biopic that could've been better, but it does have its moments. It's not the greatest but not the worst either tracing how then actress Nancy Davis met actor Ronald Reagan and then his rise to California governor and then 2-term US president. The real focus of the film is the loving relationship between Nancy and Ronald. Ronald is portrayed as someone who sees the good in people, not having political aspirations in the beginning, committed to his wife. Nancy is portrayed as being forever steadfast, lovingly devoted, and protective of her husband to the exclusion sometimes of their children. Yes, there are scenes where she's portrayed to be influencing White House staff decisions and advising the President (what married couple in America doesn't advise one another?). Surprisingly these are some of the best scenes in the film. Short clips of some of these scenes with Judy Davis were shown in the media last November which led people to criticize her Nancy Reagan portayal as harsh and "mommie dearest-like" but when I saw the scenes in context in the film, there was nothing to support the flak over Davis'performance. What I saw was a woman vehemantly defending her husband from staff who should've known better.In fact, the best thing about the film is Judy Davis' performance. Great actors can take medicore dialog and deliver it to great effect, and Davis does just that in parts. Second best is the guy who played Mike Deaver. The worst thing about the movie is the script. It could've been, should've been better. Producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan should've hired the writer(s) who did their acclaimed "Life with Judy Garland" biopic or the ones who wrote ABC's "Anne Frank" and maybe even had some of the Reagan family involved. A Canadian newspaper reported that Judy Davis was eager to meet with Nancy Reagan in preparation for her role but she was dissuaded from doing so by the powers that be. So Davis was left to books, videos, and the actor's imagination for her take on Nancy. All in all, a lost opportunity to get first-hand information. If Judy Davis had been able to meet Nancy, her portrayal of Nancy Reagan may have been decidedly different. Considering Nancy Reagan herself was reportedly pitching a film version of her life to cable (TNT or TBS?) some years ago as well, who knows? If the Reagan family were involved, I doubt the controversy would have ever come about.Advice to Neil Meron and Craig Zadan: Skip CBS. Let them make their own schlock. Make films for HBO where they have the megabucks and creative backing for their film projects.DVD Extras: There's a running commentary from producers Neil Meron/Craig Zadan and director Robert Allan Ackerman. They tell of how the Reagan project came about, that it was originally pitched to ABC a few years ago as a movie specifically about Nancy Reagan. ABC passed on it and CBS greenlighted it last year but wanted a film to focus on the Reagans as a couple. They said CBS wanted the film immediately for November sweeps so they had very little time to put the film together properly (if you ask me, technically the finished product shows it was thrown together!). It had no script at that point and no research had been done either. An idiotic way to make a film, IMO! They talk of why certain scenes are the way they are or what books the scenes draw from. Towards the end of the commentary they talk of the controversy generated by the New York Times article. Other DVD Extras are 11 extended/deleted scenes in finished form that were cut from the film. Yes, the one with the controversial "AIDS" line is included with an explanation of what source the line drew from with the original version and a version where they tried dubbing another line. Neither version are in the final movie. There's also a short interview with James Brolin."
Surprisingly good for a made for TV movie!
Nicholas Carroll | Portland OR United States | 07/16/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film got my attention because of the controversy, with conservatives demanding it not be shown on CBS. Being a liberal who didn't think much of the Reagans, I expected to see an unfavorable portrayal of the Reagans...but as I watched it, I felt impressed by Ronald Reagan, if he was actually the way James Brolin brilliantly captures him (voice, presence, walk). He comes across as a likeable, funny person who is not much for the details and appears to be mishandled by his cutthroat staff members. James Brolin and Judy Davis deserve Emmy wins for their portrayal of the first couple. Its touching to see how much they obviously love each other through the trials of a public life, even if their relationship to each other came at the expense of their children. I own a few Kennedy movies, and don't recall any attempts at boycotting/censoring those, even if they portrayed JFK's infidelity and health problems. This movie about the Reagans shouldn't surprise anyone who has read the autobiographies/memoirs by Ronald, Nancy, and Patti Davis. This film gave me a renewed appreciation for Reagan as a person and president. Conservatives should take note...if this film was a liberal slam against the former president, then it wouldn't have changed the mind of this liberal regarding him as a person. I still may not like most of his policies, but its hard to fault a funny, decent man that Reagan was. This film stands with "Jefferson in Paris" and "Thirteen Days" as must own movies about real American presidents."
What's the controversy for?
Brian Apple | Kissimmee, FL USA | 07/03/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I went into this having a somewhat negative view of Reagan and a neutral opinion of his wife. I was quite surprised to find that it changed my opinion of Reagan for the better. Nancy, however, definitely comes off the worse. The portrayals all seem very honest and reasonable and the controversy surrounding it seems misplaced. In fact, all the hub-bub sourrounding this movie feels much more like an attempt to make sure the public only remembers the good things in Reagan's administration. Bottom-line, I would recommend this movie for what it is; a very good depiction of the events and a sometimes exaggerated depiction of the people in Reagan's life. Like the movie says, the roles are presented as a composite."
Nancy and Ronnie
James Hiller | Beaverton, OR | 01/01/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Much of the hype of this television movie lies in the fact that CBS refused to air it, apparently bowing to conservative pressure. This of course created a bunch of hype prior to the release of the movie, and its quick demotion to a DVD release. After watching it, it made me wonder what all of the fuss was about. The Reagans is a comprehensive, yet inch deep look at a powerful couple destined to greatness in the political world.
James Brolin plays an eerie, and I mean eerie, Ronald Reagan throughout his lifetime. His acting is spot on in portraying a Reagan who is both wonderfully amiable to everyone that he meets, and yet distant to everyone who loved him the most. This Reagan is an actor through and through, and he continues his performance during his White House years. Judy Davis turns in an admirable performance as a hyper-supportive, controlling Nancy Reagan. I couldn't help but still see shades of Judy Garland in her performance here.
Nancy and Ronnie struggle with many issues not uncommon today: the politics of blended families, the politics within a relationship. The movie dares to suggest that Reagan and Nancy weren't perfect demi-Gods that the conservative portion of our population elevate him to be. Perhaps it's too daring to show this man, this couple, as human, foibles and all, and perhaps, that is the nature of the controversy.
Overall, very little was surprising about this movie, other than showing the onset of Reagan's Alzheimer's disease into his second term, which long has been suspected. It certainly wasn't the tell all bashing of the Reagans as some would like us to believe. If you want a glimpse into the lives of the Reagan, perhaps a perusal of this DVD would be in order."
The movie IS believable- even if you are a Reagan Republican
bb5370 | Atlanta, GA | 08/19/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I've voted Republican my whole adult life and view myself as a "Reagan Republican". I watched this movie expecting to get upset at the Barbara Streisand crowd but found it not only believable (if you go in accepting a negative bias of events by the filmmaker) but somewhat compelling. Hey, it is tough to rise above the crowd to become Governor/ President, and it takes people behind the scenes pulling levers to get it done. Most of us don't have the stomach to play politics, Nancy and Mike Deaver did and Ronny was the perfect front man- likeable, principled, simplistic but able to communicate a vision most people found desirable. We all came to respect Nancy deeply for standing by President Reagan in his declining years, but we also knew she played hardball with his staff, was an eccentric Hollywood type. That's the way the movie plays it and I can't see what the problem is. Brolin does an admirable job and Judy Davis is great regardless of how accurately Nancy gets portrayed here. Deaver seems to have screamed the loudest about this flick, probably because early-on he's painted as pretty slick, although that seems to change after Reagan fires/rehires him during the 1980 campaign. Watch it- it's complicated but that's the world we live in, folks."