Southside With You (2016) - Rotten Tomatoes

Southside With You2016

Southside With You (2016)



Critic Consensus: Southside With You looks back on a fateful real-life date with strong performances and engaging dialogue, adding up to a romance that makes for a pretty good date movie in its own right.

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Movie Info

Inspired by Barack and Michelle Obama's first date, SOUTHSIDE WITH YOU recounts the eventful summer day in 1989 when a young law firm associate named Barack Obama (Parker Sawyers) tried to woo lawyer Michelle Robinson (Tika Sumpter) during a daylong date that took them from the Art Institute of Chicago to a screening of Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing to the site of their first kiss outside of an ice cream parlor.

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Tika Sumpter
as Michelle Robinson
Parker Sawyers
as Barack Obama
Vanessa Bell Calloway
as Marian Robinson
Tom McElory
as Avery Goodman
Philip Edward Van Lear
as Fraser C. Robinson
Tom McElroy
as Avery Goodman
Stephanie Monday
as Laura Goodman
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Critic Reviews for Southside With You

All Critics (159) | Top Critics (47)

[Southside with you] should make stars of [Parker] Sawyers and [Tika] Sumpter.

August 30, 2017 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

A truly horrible TV movie premise -- let's re-create the first romantic date between Barack and Michelle Obama -- is given serious intellectual and emotional heft in the writer-director Richard Tanne's feature debut

October 3, 2016 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

As a multi-faceted character study - of a couple, a nation, a racial identity - there are surprises around every corner.

September 29, 2016 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

A gently likable, Linklaterish movie that ideologically conflates romantic excitement with progressive idealism, bringing in some unexpected subtleties.

September 29, 2016 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

Stumbles occasionally, but still manages to cast a hushed spell that never entirely fades.

September 27, 2016 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

A small, successful sketch of now-great lives.

September 26, 2016 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Southside With You

An interesting look at the build up and events of the first date of the Obamas. Well acted, with great dialogue and a great likeness of both characters makes this an enjoyable romantic movie.

Ian Walker
Ian Walker

Super Reviewer


The two leads captivate us with strong performances in this simple walk-and-talk film, playing intelligent characters who spend a day together on a date through black culture in America, but the movie is also a bit too respectful and borders occasionally on hagiography.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer


Any movie that decides to play Janet Jackson over its opening credits is off to a good start. Especially when it's "Miss You Much," coupled with eighties inspired pink text flashing across the screen. From the opening scene Southside With You sets the tone of a late summer day on the streets of Chicago at the tail end of that decade we've all suddenly become enamored with nostalgia for. It is 1989 and Michelle Robinson (Tika Sumpter) is getting set to accompany the summer associate she is advising at the law firm she works for to a town meeting to address local community issues. As the lone African-American woman working at this law firm Robinson has had to work doubly hard in order to gain the respect she desires and she's not about to let the first charismatic, smooth-talking black guy convince her to undo all that hard work by going on a date with him. Or is she? It just so happens this young, summer associate is a hotshot from Harvard named Barack Obama (Parker Sawyers). And so, yes, Southside With You is the story of the first date between the now President and First Lady of these United States of America via the lens of something akin to director Richard Linklater's Before trilogy. It's a clichéd comparison at this point, but an apt one as the majority of Southside With You is filled by our two main characters walking and talking. If you haven't seen Linklater's trilogy that chronicles a couple meeting and spending a single night together that was little more than that in 1995 it is the epitome of characters walking and talking. Chronicling that magic of how perfect strangers can connect so intimately over a short period of time and analyzing that indescribable feeling that creates a strong, trusting bond between two people-a bond that will inevitably turn to love-Linklater's films provide a nice template for how to both simply and intricately weave together the innocence of falling for someone and the complex emotions that will inevitably come with circumstance. Linklater has returned to his characters in ten year intervals with sequels in 2004 and 2013, but with Southside With You writer/director Richard Tanne takes notes largely from that initial meeting treating his characters not as the future Mr. and Mrs. President, but simply as two people in that awkward phase between true adolescence and true adulthood who are just trying to figure themselves and the world they live in out. read the whole review at

Philip Price
Philip Price

Super Reviewer

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