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Southside With You: The First Couple’s First Date

Can one first date be interesting enough to fill 80 minutes? Yes, when the couple in question happens to be Michelle Robinson and Barack Obama.

Their often-mentioned first rendezvous is the subject of Southside With You (the title referring to Chicago’s Southside where they both lived). Written and directed by 30-year old Richard Tanne and produced by Tika Sumpter (who also plays Michelle ) the film reaffirms that everything about their first day and evening together is really, really, really as cute as we all thought. From her refusing to call it a date because she was his advisor at the law firm and being – not just playing – hard to get, to his awkwardness in trying to hide his smoking habit from her. He loves pie – she hates pie. She loves ice cream – he overdosed on it while working at a Baskin Robbins one summer in Hawaii. And her slowly softening over the course of the day ,when he takes her to a community meeting and gives a speech that impresses her enough to agree to go see Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing. What is slowly becoming a date hits a small snag when they run into one of the firm’s partners and his wife at the movie theater. But then Barack stops at an ice cream store and gets her a cone of chocolate ice cream, her favorite flavor. And the rest – as they say – is history.

Parker Sawyers plays Obama and is mesmerizing in his portrayal. Not only does he look like the president as a young man, but he has also got his vocal inflections and speech patterns down. During the screening, the audience laughed when he started a sentence with ‘Listen…’ When you closed your eyes you could hear the real man. Only one part of Sawyers was not quite up to par: the actor has much smaller ears than the president and can surely not be called Dumbo.

Southside With You is so delightful that one could actually imagine the Obamas themselves enjoying it – or at least Malia and Sasha getting a kick out of watching their parent’s hooking up.

(Read our interview with director Richard Tanne)