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The President is William Mitchell,
Popular but quite the swine.
He lies, philanders, cooks the books,
And looks a lot like Kevin Kline.
 
A busy night requires that he
Get a decent look-a-like
To take his place for just a moment
Just in case danger may strike.
 
The Secret Service finds Dave Kovic,
Who could be Bill Mitchell’s twin.
He does a very worthy job
And likes the role that he is in.
 
But, when Bill Mitchell has a stroke,
Bob Alexander, chief of staff,
Decides to keep Dave on for good
And run the land on his behalf.
 
While Dave agrees to play along,
He knows Bob’s whole plan is shady.
No one notices the difference,
Even Ellen, Bill’s First Lady.
 
The pure Vice President is sent on
Some long African peace tour,
And Bob bribes the few who know
To keep his little plot secure.
 
Although it all goes well at first,
Dave soon wants to help out more.
So he tries to cut the budget,
Something Bob cannot ignore.
 
Because she knows her husband’s crooked,
Ellen knows that something’s wrong.
She catches Dave within the lie, but
Both of them still get along.
 
When Dave decides to take the reins and
Help the country as he should,
He fires Bob and tells the press that
He will try to do more good.
 
But Bob has dirt on Mitchell’s scheming,
And he gives it to the press,
Prompting Dave to go to Congress
And, on live TV, confess.
 
He also offers proof that Bob took
Part in all his past misdeeds,
But suddenly Dave passes out,
And his ingenious plan succeeds.
 
Within an ambulance, they switch out
Dave for Bill, still comatose.
The news reports a much worse stroke,
Which clueless doctors diagnose.
 
With Gary Nance, Vice President, now
Stepping up to chief-of-state,
Dave goes back to his normal life,
But better things may still await.
 
For Ellen’s now in love with David,
Joining him in life mundane,
But Dave still dreams of helping more
And plans to launch his own campaign.
_____________________
 

With a title that gives little hint to its plot, Dave is all about Kevin Kline, who plays both President Bill Mitchell and Dave Kovic. Kline is the magic charm that makes the whole film work, portraying both a jerk and a lovable guy who’s in over his head and barely knows it. His eccentricities, such as the way he embellishes the lines and orders given him (or sometimes doesn’t, to comedic effect) are priceless. Yet, his sympathetic idealism is like something out of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and one can’t help but root for his plans, even if he is lying to the whole country throughout the film (due to Bob Alexander, played by the icy Frank Langella).

While his beneficent proposals are pretty unrealistic (putting every single person to work is not really in the government’s power; see the New Deal), it’s nice to see a film point out the flaws in the system in a fairly nonpartisan way. Comments about the unwieldiness of the budget, the unnecessary programs that gobble up millions, and the selfishness of many politicians make Dave a film to be taken seriously, and many cameos by actual congressmen, senators, and news reporters give it a sense of realism.

Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Mitchell, Ving Rhames as Secret Service man Duane, Charles Grodin as Dave’s accountant friend (having played one in Midnight Run, Grodin must like playing accountants) and Ben Kingsley as Vice President Nance round out the well-cast roles, and I must say that Kline and Weaver have some winning chemistry. (As a side note, when Dave operates two giant robotic arms, I couldn’t help but think that it’s too bad Sigourney Weaver didn’t get ahold of those and fight a giant alien.) As a comedy, the film is amusing throughout but doesn’t have any standout hilarious scene, like other Ivan Reitman films (Ghostbusters, Stripes). Dave nonetheless is an entertaining Prince-and-the-Pauper look at a fictional Washington conspiracy that thankfully hasn’t really happened. I think.

Best line: (Duane, as Dave and he part ways) “I would have taken a bullet for you.”

 
Artistry: 6
Characters/Actors: 8
Entertainment: 8
Visual Effects: N/A (except for one scene with the two Kevin Klines)
Originality: 6
Watchability: 8
Other (language): -3
 
TOTAL: 33 out of 60
 

Next: #275 – The Emperor’s New Groove

© 2014 S. G. Liput

 

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