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Not having suffered the rise to power that many politicians go through Dave isn't blinded by just running things the way they always have been and can see the many wrong decisions that politicians make simply to keep the status quo and, after tiring of simply following the orders of the chief of staff, decides to do what so few US presidents do, and make things better for the working man.
To this and the last decade Gary Ross is what Frank Capra was to the thirties and forties, with a variety of feel good films that challenge are ideas about what the world is and what it should be. The script for this film is dynamite with a ton of great touches, including Dave's changing from Presidential script reader to tourist as he spots a souvenir. The film manages to stride in between the dangerous path of a hard right "Eastwood-Esque" take on things and the ultra-liberal path that someone like Redford would focus on. Instead the film manages to put itself in the minds of the ordinary Joe, who watches in disbelief at the stupid things that the powers that be spend money on, when so many problems still go on without being addressed at all, with sound bites like "You can't solve problems by throwing money at them" (How come it's only the wealthy that say that?)
The performances are all first rate with Kevin Kline magnificent as the idealistic Dave Kovic thrown into the deep end after becoming the leader of the free world, Frank Langella and Alan Reed also excel as the Chief of staff and Chief scriptwriter, with Charles Grodin stealing the scene as the put upon Murray who takes on various people from Dave's temp agency when he is stuck finding work for people elsewhere. The direction is nothing special but succeeds in telling the story with humour and sadness that very often the people who get the top job have so little knowledge of the people at the bottom to make any significant change in society.
First rate, and far better than the IMDb rating suggests. Also watch out for a great end gag. Top drawer.
Pre 9/11 it's true, and all to be taken with a pinch of salt, but after all that's gone on in the White House over the years, I found it not totally implausible. Fact is stranger than fiction in that place.
The movie itself was cleverly crafted and didn't get over-bogged down with mush. The multi-talented Kevin Kline was excellent in the "double" role, Sigourney Weaver enchanting as the First Lady, Ben Kingsley reliable as ever as the Vice-President, but it was Frank Langella as the WH Chief of Staff who stole the show. He was superb.
To those who may say that "Dave" doesn't give a true reflection on American politics or make a political statement, I would agree with them, but then it surely didn't mean to. Its just a charming little comedy and/or love story that's easy on mind and eye, and for what its worth I thought it was great...so there!
As I read some of the other comments about this movie on IMDB, I realize that cynicism can easily get in the way of just enjoying a movie for what it is.
Kevin Kline is terrific and so is the rest of the cast. Also, the insertion of so many real politicians and pundits playing themselves adds a nice touch. I thoroughly recommend this movie! I could give it no less than a 10.
The premise: Dave Kovic (Kevin Kline), proprietor of an temporary employment agency and part time Presidential impersonator, is spotted and recruited by the Secret Service to do a brief "body double" appearance for current President William Harrison Mitchell at a Washington networking dinner. Although explained to Dave as "doubling for the President in exposed situations", in reality he is the scandal stopping alibi for Mitchell, currently Lewinski-ing his secretary Randi (a very small part for the tremendously talented Laura Linney). Simple enough, until the unthinkable happens: Mitchell, while in flagrante delicto, suffers a massive stroke and becomes completely incapacitated.
With a little ingenuity, this may have been covered up and smoothed over simply by transferring leadership to the Vice President, as specified by law. However, White House Chief of Staff Bob Alexander (Frank Langella) has other ideas entirely. Seizing on the opportunity to obtain his greatest ambition, the Presidential office for himself, Alexander decides to take matters into his own hands. Enlisting the reluctant aid of Press Secretary Alan Reed (Kevin Dunn), together they convince Dave that, for the good of the country and the world at large, he must continue to double for the President until Mitchell recovers from his "slight circulatory problem of the head". Suddenly, this very down to earth guy finds himself in the most unreal of circumstances, thought of by all but a handful of insiders to BE the actual President of the United States.
Although smoothly sailing at the start, as time passes, things begin to become complicated. Dave's naturally sweet personality, gentle sense of fun and moral character are by no means similar to Mitchell's, and cannot help but surface. Soon, the watchdogs of Washington, and the American public, begin to notice the difference. So does the First Lady. Estranged from her husband although living under the same roof, the more time she spends with Dave, the more keenly aware she is of the change in her "husband". She begins to have her suspicions that all is not as it seems. And Dave, becoming more immersed and comfortable in his new role, decides to stretch his wings and take a shot at actually DOING the President's job for real, much to the growing consternation of Bob Alexander.
Now: Could this happen in real life? Probably not. With all of the security, surveillance and snooping that certainly goes on every day in Washington, could the two "Pit vipers", Alexander and Reed, really pull this off? Oh, hell, no. Would a woman not know her husband even if she confronted him naked in the shower? As as woman, I doubt it. We ALWAYS know. But, to paraphrase the moderator of The Mclaughlin Report, "the correct answer is": Who cares? This film was never meant to be "Murder at 1600" or "The Shadow Conspiracy". No, think of it more as "Air Bud Goes to Washington". A delightful departure from reality. A delicious "What if...?" story.
Reitman films are NEVER believable. That is precisely what makes them so wonderful. Yes, this movie asks you to suspend belief for about two hours. Yes, it asks you to swallow the idea that Dave could fool not only the First Lady, but his cabinet, Congress, and the country at large. In fact, it seems he has convinced everyone except "Oliver", a delicious cameo appearance by Oliver Stone on Larry King's show.
My best advice on "Dave": Just watch it and love it for what it is. Forget the "plot accuracies" and the "believability factor". Watch the actors, who are superb. Part of what makes Reitman films so watchable is the interaction between the players, the subtle sub plots and undercurrents to the story. Sigorney Weaver is excellent as First Lady Ellen Mitchell. Kevin Dunn does a marvelous job with the conflicted Alan Reed, bound by past misdeeds and present schemes to Bob Alexander yet finding a growing respect and affection for Dave. Ving Rhames is perfectly cast as Duane Stevenson, the President's personal Secret Service man. Stoic and unyieldingly correct, he also finds himself becoming attached to Kline's easily lovable Dave, as does legendary actor Ben Kingsley in his role as Vice President Nance.
Kevin Kline, as usual, turns in a workmanlike performance, making Everyman Dave Kovic someone you'd love to have for your own friend. More, he makes you wish a guy like him would actually BE elected President. And what do you say about Frank Langella? He's always magnetic. Those deeply penetrating eyes with their deadly glare, that softly evil voice. Listen carefully to his dialog. Spoken softly, it doesn't do for you to miss his delivery of some of the best lines in the film. His facial expressions say more than ten pages of script could ever. Speaking of facial expressions, watch Charles Grodin as Murray Blum, Dave's accountant friend, especially in the closing scenes of the movie. Hilarious without saying a word.
In case you haven't gathered, I loved this movie. I've watched it countless times, and highly recommend it as a charming, witty and touching break from the reality of politics and life in general. Buy this film. You'll be glad you did.
There really isn't much to say other than if you like any of these actors or director above, then you should probably see this film. Or, if you think you'd like a little comedy/drama, then check it out. I really enjoyed this film and I hope you will as well. Thanks for reading,
I can watch this over and over again and enjoy it every time. Kevin Kline puts in a pitch-perfect performance in both his roles, but Sigourney Weaver, as ever, has genius.
The minor roles too (Wayans, Linney, Grodin) are good too. As is Frank Langella.
My only quibble is the ending - like no-one's going to notice that the First Lady is going with a guy who looks exactly like the dead President? Eeuw.
But the rest of the movie is so great, I'll forgive it!
Forget about the exceptional cast and acting. Forget Ivan Reitman's great direction and the highly suitable music of James Newton Howard. Even the notable guest appearances from senators, journalists etc.
That makes it for me one of my all time favorite movies, is the heart of its characters, especially Dave.
It's all about doing the right thing.
Unfortunately almost never good people reach the highest offices. You need to be a politician. To sell yourself bit by bit, to compromise, to lie or even worst.
But what if? What if purely by chance or because the universe wanted it, a good, honest, caring man becomes the most powerful man in the world? This is the main theme of this great movie and you surely wont give it justice if you see it as a farce or a comedy.
For me this movie is a 10. I really think writers and directors should make more movies like this, instead of writing about lunatics and serial killers.
When an ordinary every-man look-alike to the president is asked to briefly pose as the chief executive, he reluctantly agrees to the put-on. Things get complicated because the real president suffers a debilitating stroke, and the poser is asked to maintain the deception for national security reasons by a corrupt power mongering chief-of-staff.
Kevin Kline does an excellent job as the innocent who finds he is a modern day Mr. Smith going to Washington, encountering scandals and corruption going on at these levels. The shadow-government conspiracy theory is nothing new, but this film utilizes the idea with an optimistic viewpoint, since the lead character chooses to effect positive changes, rather than exploit the situation. Corruption is seen as the exception rather than the rule, and that honest people can remove this blight from the landscape, if only they had the bravery to do so. Certainly this is a wildly idealistic premise, but it works.
Political insiders are the baddies, the rest of us are the good guys, represented by Dave (a great acting performance by Kevin Kline). Ben Kingsley is great as the sincere and benevolent vice president. Sigourney Weaver is wonderful as the ignored first lady who keys into the deception, and Frank Langella is well cast as the plotting diabolical foe of democracy, Bob Alexander. There are several standouts in the supporting cast, as well.
An entertaining "feel good" movie, certainly worth a watch.
The cast is flawless, and the direction is clean. Kevin Kline plays it earnestly and Sigourney Weaver is believable. Frank Langella is a perfect villain. Seeing all the real-life politicos and news-people still make it great fun. I found it very reminiscent of Mr. Smith goes to Washington with Kline doing a great modern Jimmy Stewart. Frank Capra would approve.
What a great movie!
If every President was like the person played by Kevin Kline, we would be in beautiful shape.
Sigourney Weaver plays a moving role as the real President's wife, as well as the villain Frank Langella, the White House Chief of Staff. And Ving Rhames is perfect as the stiff Duane Stevenson, the President's personal Secret Service man, who ends up with an impressive comment at the end.
After seeing some of the absurd, horrible, and depressing movies that Hollywood has recently dumped on the American people, this flashback to 1993 was a welcome relief.
Take note, Hollywood, it is okay to have a feel-good movie with a positive ending!
Sigourney Weaver plays the first lady and this is a really good part for her and she delivers quite a conflicted performance. She is angry for her husband's sexual expeditions, but is committed to social justice, especially for children in a day-care center. Doesn't this sound familiar? Remember, this is a 1993 film.
Dave becomes a People President by doing things that benefit them and not the special interests. Dave for President.
A strong cast and a heart warming story provide entertainment value throughout this movie, and Kevin Kline's dual role as the corrupt President and the struggling employment agency owner is another in the long list of examples of his versatility.
"Dave" makes you wish that a dose of common sense could actually enter into the picture in our federal government, but of course that element of the film makes it the biggest fantasy effort of all time. LOL
This is one of the few movies I will watch any time it comes on, and I enjoy it just as much every time I see it.
When I first thought about watching this film with my family I thought it would be some kind of cheap fish out of water movie, but I was so wrong.It was really funny and touching at the end. It tells a story about Dave who becomes president.
The story is exciting but light hearted and a pleasure to watch I would recommend this film to any one who enjoys good quality, feel good movies and any age. The acting is brilliant (Kevin Kline and Sigourney) as the stars put over the fact that they having a good making it as well as the characters. Well done to all who made this and I hope feature views have as much fun watching this film as I did!
Many people say this film is manipulative, but I don't see it, and I'm usually the first one to roll my eyes at something being overdone. The characters were believable, though Kevin Kline easily outshines the others. Playing someone who you have to convince could be the President of the United States is very, very difficult, yet he does it so flawlessly that you really believe that he is the President -- or could be. One of my favorite movies and I've watched it several times and will watch it again in the future. 10 stars for this one!!
It's a well-written satirical screenplay about a government conspiracy that contained a lot of cameos at the time. Kevin Kline gives one of his best performance since his Oscar winning role as Otto from "A Fish Called Wanda" and Frank Langella plays a fantastic corrupted villain. Unlike the 1995 film "The American President"; this movie is full-blown comedy that doesn't take itself serious, but has a very warm heart and message to the film that an average American can make a difference in politics.
A hilarious wishful movie about what we really want our president to be. Kevin Kline is perfect in the role--both roles--a little goofy but totally believable. The rest of the cast doesn't much matter. They are decent if never amazing. It's a lightweight movie and to demand much beyond the gags and feel good qualities isn't fair to it.
Does it hold up twenty years after it was made? Oddly, yes. You might not even notice it's a bit outdated on the fringes. Politics in some ways has not changed a bit. And the idea of body doubles for the U.S. President is still in currency (see "Vantage Point" for starters). Of course the notion of a secretive government that might pull of a huge scam isn't far-fetched at all (except of course that you hope it actually is far-fetched outside of Hollywood--see "Wag the Dog" for starters).
There is also the use of lots of real people to bolster the idea that it's real, or could be real. Some are identified (senators and other celebrities from the era) so if you don't recognize them you should at least trust that these people are not actors.
But there are a number (like 20 or 30) of other "real" people playing themselves, including Oliver Stone. In case you don't know him, Stone is being interviewed on Larry King Live (with the real Larry King) and he says that they've studied photos of the "new" president and that it's a conspiracy. This is really one of the many little hilarious lines because Stone, of course, is famous for hatching or nurturing conspiracy theories for his movies. His "JFK" came out just two years earlier.
The other fun one most people will miss (and this dates me) is running into an unidentified Tip O'Neill on the streets. He was the real speaker of the house, and it's a great little three seconds. He dies the following year.
Okay, the movie isn't brilliant. But it never gets stale, and it's well made enough to survive even a curmudgeon without popcorn. It'll make you laugh.
I was thinking just the other night about a top 10 list of movies that I can watch over and over, and that still work every time. Dave would be on it, along with North by Northwest and The Producers. But Dave produces a different emotional response than these two; it is closer to The Princess Bride, in that it is a very pleasant movie that makes you feel good, even when you feel bad.
The script of Dave is fantastic, with lots of memorable lines, and the plot has more hairpin turns than the Alaska Highway. But it is the movie's effectiveness in producing emotional responses to various scenes that sets it apart. The ending is especially powerful. Great directing, writing and acting!
Dave has elements of The Prince and the Pauper, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and Superman, the latter because you have to suspend your disbelief that the public won't recognize Dave. Also, for those too young to remember, former vice president Nelson Rockefeller died while having sex with a young mistress, an obvious inspiration for the story. The story also bears some resemblance to President Bill Clinton's escapades, but those came later.
During the premiere of Frank Capra's Mr. Smith, half of Washington walked out of the theater in outrage over the portrayal of corruption, which probably cut a bit too close to the truth for some of them. This time, half of Washington appeared in the film! Capra died two years before Dave was released, but I am sure he would have enjoyed it, and been delighted to see the Capra style continued so beautifully by Ivan Reitman and Gary Ross.
If you haven't seen Dave, you must watch it. And if you have, watch it again. And again. And again. You will enjoy it every time. Unless, perhaps, you are a crooked politician.
As I have read the foregoing comments, it seems to me that most people shy away from mentioning Frank Langella's performance. Those of us who remember Alexander Haig in the hours after the failed Reagan assassination attempt ("I'm in control here!") may have an inkling into the psyche of a power-hungry and ruthless political "wannabe" so aptly played by Frank Langella. His character gave the film the villainous conflict that is necessary in a successful story. I was thoroughly impressed with Mr. Langella's character's self-serving manipulations of "the situation" within the script.
That's the subplot that makes this movie so endearing to me...the "meanie" does his utmost to thwart righteousness, but is ultimately defeated by an innocent protagonist.
Shades of old "westerns" ("Liberty Valance"). I loved it.
The plot is relatively straightforward - lookalike Dave, trapped into continuing his Presidential impersonation because of the President's secret stroke, then starting to feel his feet in the role to the annoyance of Machiavellian Presidential aide Frank Langella - but everyone performs with commitment and integrity. Kline is first rate, the burgeoning feelings between him and Sigourney Weaver's First Lady is believable, and Langella and Kevin Dunn as the two aides who are in on it are both, in very different ways, very good.
This is an enjoyable film.