“Honestly, we elected a guy who looks like Kevin Pollak as President. We should have seen this coming.”
~The American People in the Film Deterrence
Just like time marches on with a stubbornness that cannot be defeated, so to we must continue our bold and silly experiment to rank every single fictional President who has appeared in a major motion picture throughout the history of cinema. Today’s entry has a lot of Presidents who you would still not want to see leading your country. For example, you might not have a lot of confidence in, say, the guy who thought that Greg Brady from The Brady Bunch should be his Vice President, or the President who actually is Alan Alda. But why don’t we go ahead and just start this section with the guy who nuked Baghdad.
Every Fictional President in Film History: Ranked (#110-101—The Disaster Presidents)
110: Deterrence (1999)
Kevin Pollak as President Walter Emerson
Okay this one is tricky as fuck. Basically, the United States sold a bunch of nukes to Iraq through the French, but made sure that none of the nukes worked. Then, after Uday Hussein invaded Kuwait (this movie takes place in 2008, so we guess they just made Saddam’s son head of Iraq in their imagined future), a bunch of brinkmanship happens, and in the end the President straight up nukes Baghdad. Everyone freaks out, because Iraq immediately retaliates, but none of the bombs explode, and, like, yay? The day is saved? Millions are dead? He then decides he won’t run for reelection, saying he did the right thing but someone else needs to carry on. Jesus, what do we do with this one? We guess this is where we’ll make the rule—any President that nukes millions of people can’t be considered a good President, right? Oh, shut up history nerds.
109: Canadian Bacon (1995)
Alan Alda as the President of the United States
Alan Alda plays a President who tries to start a war in order to boost his polling numbers. That is not a good thing for a President to be doing. He served one term, got beaten badly, and went on to host “Get Up, Cleveland” which might actually be the most humiliating post-Presidential career in the history of film Presidents.
108: Superman II (1980)
E.G. Marshall as the President of the United States
Okay, so this is definitely a bad President, as he just hands over control of the planet Earth to General Zod, like, immediately. But he at least tries to reach out to Superman, implying him to save the day? He shows a little backbone there? It’s not much, but it’s something.
107: The Day After Tomorrow (2004)
Kenneth Welsh as Vice President/President Raymond Becker
We’re in the disaster film block, folks!
So there are two Presidents in the movie The Day After Tomorrow, which is probably a little tidbit of information that you had no idea about until today, even if you actually saw the movie when it came out. We feel as ambivalent about your new knowledge as you do. Anyway, President Becker starts the movie as Vice President, and basically is like, “Oh global warming? More like global SCHMORMING” right before everything goes to shit. He ends up having to give a speech from Mexico at the end of the movie basically saying “my bad.”
106: The Day After Tomorrow (2004)
Perry King as President Blake
Really we might as well lump both of the Day After Tomorrow Presidents together, since the movie ends with America pretty much fucked. Of the two President Blake is the better one, since it’s his Vice President who was the one to ignore all the global warming warning signs that led to *checks notes on this stupid fucking movie* the three Northern superstorms. President Blake just sort of, tells everyone in the south to go to Mexico, and then dies in a storm. Like, off camera. This movie is not great for Presidents.
105: 10.5 (2004)
Beau Bridges as President Paul Hollister
We swear to god that the ranking having the same numbers as the title was 100% unintentional. That’s just fate, folks. Anyway, 10.5 was a made-for-TV movie that aired over the course of two days, back when we were in a huge “movies about natural disasters” kick. Basically there are a whole mess of Earthquakes happening, and the only way to stop them is to weld the San Andreas fault, with nukes. To Hollister’s credit, he allows the plan to go forward. But it doesn’t work, and the movie ends with a 10.5 magnitude earthquake (hence the fucking name) breaking California off from the rest of the country.
104: The Alternative (2000)
John Beck as President Fallbrook
Y’all, we need to talk about this movie. It’s got Ice-T and Michael Madsen as secret service agents, and it doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page. And its DVD cover literally tries to sell it as “in the tradition of Die Hard.” This is a bad movie. But also, if your Chief of Staff has to fake a kidnapping as a last ditch effort to boost your poll numbers while you’re facing a scandal, and then your kidnappers decide to make it a real kidnapping, you’re definitely a bad President.
103: Megiddo: The Omega Code 2 (2001)
Jim Metzler as Secretary of State and Acting President Breckinridge
Megiddo is a sci-fi bible apocalypse big budget disaster of a film. In it, there are two brothers. One is possessed by a demon, and the other is…not. The possessed brother becomes the President of the European Union, and tries to gather the forces of the world to start the Apocalypse (this is a super Jesus-y movie). The brother is the Vice President, but of America, who later becomes President, but then is kicked out of office because footage is released of him killing his family as a child. (In reality, his brother doctored the footage of when he actually killed their parents. This is a weird fucking movie.) Anyway, this poor schmuck becomes Acting President, and the only thing he does is agree to send troops to help out the Apocalypse brother. So yeah, not a great track record there.
102: The Brady Bunch in the White House (2002)
Dave Nichols as President Lawrence Randolph
We need to talk about how supremely fucked up this 2002 made-for-TV movie was. So first of all, settle in, President Reynolds was just one of the two Presidents in this movie. But holy fuck. STRAP. THE. FUCK. IN.
In The Brady Bunch in the White House, Bobby Brady finds a $67 million winning lottery ticket (like, just fucking, around we guess?) and Mike Brady decides that the right thing to do would be to return it to its rightful owner. Now, this random owner decided to write a phone number to a sex line on the back of it (what), so they posted an ad in the newspaper for the owner to claim it. Everyone who tried did not know that a, you know, sex line was on the back. If you think this is as weird as things get, shut up you know it gets weirder. The rightful owner of the ticket was a murderer on death row. Some random guy managed to buy a lottery ticket, commit murder and end up on death row by the time the numbers hit. That’s like, three days, you guys.
Anyway, since they can’t find the rightful owner, they donate the money to charity. This leads President Reynolds (whose Vice President had just resigned to become the “head of Fox, where he can make five times the money and make a real difference” [this fucking movie]) to invite the family to a press conference, at which point the President promises that he’ll resign if it’s ever proven that he has worked with an oil drilling company that has abused the environment. He didn’t have to make that promise, by the way, he just did. Like, unprompted. Then when Carol Brady suggests that her husband be the President’s next running mate, he randomly is like, “Sure, this guy who dresses like it’s the 70s and is literally only known because he made a charitable donation using the lottery winnings of a murderer into sex phone lines? Yeah, he’s Vice Presidential material” and so, boom, Mike Brady runs as Vice President and they win.
AND THEN. It turns out Reynolds was lying about the environmental group, so he quits, making Mike Brady the President. Mike Brady then nominates Carol Brady to be his VP, which works because she, and we’re quoting Wikipedia here, “Wins over Congress with a song and dance number.” WHAT? Then some political dissidents try to get the Bradys out of the White House by accusing the family of crimes such as “putting a cigarette in Greg’s coat and accusing him of underage smoking” and “accusing Peter of bribery after he gets good grades because he compliments a teacher” and, wait, what, “accusing Alice of drugging the Bradys food because how else could you explain why they’re so happy all the time” (that last one tracks, actually). Finally the speaker of the house and his partner forge a NASA report that says a comet is about to hit Earth, and then make fun of the Bradys for falling for the “hoax.”
It ends with the Bradys realizing they had been duped, crashing a press conference that was going to essentially end their presidency and, we assume, they manage to not get impeached. This is a lot, you guys. Maybe too much.
101: Monsters vs. Aliens
Stephen Colbert as President Hathaway
Anyway, you all are probably still exhausted from The Brady Bunch in the White House, so let’s come back next week and we’ll start getting into the Presidents who rank in the double-digits.