“Southside With You” Movie Review

This movie teaches us all a very important lesson, folks: getting your girlfriend a cup or cone of their favorite ice cream will score you at least one kiss. At least that’s what the Obamas seem to be teaching me about first dates. Released on August 26th, 2016, this romantic comedy-drama earned $6 million over a $1.5 million budget. Set in the summer of 1989, the film follows Barack Obama and Michele Robinson on their first date in Southside Chicago. Before they were living in the White House with two daughters, they were just two work associates at a law firm. Supposedly, the real-life 44th President and First Lady had little to no involvement with the production. Writer-director, Richard Tanne, in his feature film debut, claims that the majority of the movie was based on extensive research of publicly released information. A lot work for this movie. Getting it right off the bat, the two lead stars are really good in their roles. Tika Sumpter, who also served as co-producer on the production, captured the essence of Michelle Obama with flying colors. Her determination and pragmatism reflect her high level of intelligence. She does acknowledge, however, that her being a woman draws the ire of a work line dominated mostly by men. Added by the color of her skin, and her opportunities are limited even further. Opposite her, Parker Sawyer portrays Barack Obama, kind of. By that I mean Barack Obama is in this movie, and that is simply that. Not even lying. Sawyer’s big acting break sees him absolutely perfect in the role of an ordinary man who would later become the well-known if controversial United States President. His voice patterns and mannerisms make him look and feel exactly like the real-life subject, who smokes like a chimney and speak in a modest, intelligent tone. The chemistry between Sawyer and Sumpter bounces off of the walls. The dialogue they share is realistic and sometimes funny, making the relationship of their first date feel all the more genuine. Which is interesting, because this is a case of a real-life story where you already know how it’s going to end. But the way everything is executed makes you forget about that; a good movie can do that. And Southside With You is an excellent movie. Regardless of your political opinions of the Obamas, their first love story is still compelling and relatable for anyone who watches this film. It would actually make a great date night movie.

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