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Arlene's (Michelle Williams) fascination with teen singing stars will soon fade when, on a school field trip to the White House and through a chance encounter with the President's dog, Checkers, Arlene meets the man of her dreams, President Richard "Dick" Nixon (Dan Hedaya). The President makes her and friend Betsy (Kirsten Dunst) official White House Dog walkers, and they begin to enjoy almost unlimited access to the White House and the President himself. But a chance visit to Presidential secretary Rosemary Woods' (Ana Gasteyer) office begins the unraveling of the presidency. Seeing a tape recorder on the secretary's desk, Arlene begins recording an amorous message and song to Dick. By the time she's done with the machine, the mystery of the infamous tape gap is solved.

"President Richard Nixon and Watergate have never been off limits as satire, and I should know, having once been in his arms. (You can't possibly be interested, but if you are, see below.) Ah, you're back… But unless you're really focused on him and/or Watergate, this film is dangerously dated for a contemporary audience. You're either too old or too young for it, because unlike the Holocaust, it was not a human disaster on a global scale. Those of us who lived through it as adults will find the satire far too heavy handed and clunky, while those of us who have only heard about it will find ourselves disconnected from it because the lack of instant recognition of the characters. All the same, I'm drawn to the wacky and inventive ideas of the film, even while resisting its delivery of the jokes. I love the simple yet ludicrous possibility of the film's basic premise - it sucks the veracity out of life's strange coincidences with a passion. But I fail to respond to the over-writing, overacting, over producing and overdoing. I wrote a note to myself while watching it, which said, 'Bergman'. Andrew Bergman wrote one of the funniest films I've seen, The In Laws, starring Alan Arkin and Peter Falk. It's played straight (deadpan, as they used to say on stage) a bit like Basil Fawlty . . . As it is, the film squanders its humour on the juvenile aspects (rib-nudging caricatures and goofy stuff that doesn't stretch the talents) and forgets to include its audience in the jokes. Yet it comes up with great, ironic lines, terrific isolated scenes and some truly wicked moments - but not enough. Great idea, poor execution."
Andrew L. Urban

OK. It's a late November day in 1956: Nixon is a US Senator, I'm an 11 year old refugee from Hungary. He's visiting Vienna (how would I know why?) and I'm filling time while waiting to be processed. My mother drags me off to Vienna Airport for Nixon's arrival, and we are at the front of the crowd on the apron. I understand nothing, but this smiling American comes and lifts me up in his arms, people laugh and smile and the man grins at me. He puts me down and my life continues. All of this is reconstructed: at the time, I had no idea. It was only when he became President of the US that my mother (casually, watching a tv news report one day) said, 'Oh, he's the man who …' I have since formed BINAS (Been In Nixon's Arms Survivors) Group and am coping well. Go back to the review.

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CAST: Kirsten Dunst, Michelle Williams, Dan Hedaya, Will Ferrell, Bruce McCulloch, Teri Garr. Dave Foley, Bob Haldeman

DIRECTOR: Andrew Fleming

PRODUCER: Gale Anne Hurd

SCRIPT: Andrew Fleming, Sheryl Longin

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Alexander Gruszynski

EDITOR: Mia Goldman

MUSIC: John Debney


RUNNING TIME: 97 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 17, 2000

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