President Dave's Homely Manifesto
If "Dave" had been thought up 50 years earlier if is the sort of movie which would have starred James Stewart. Why? Well because "Dave" is a gentle, warm hearted comedy with a pleasant romantic element but also a moralistic, semi political message that despite not being outrageously funny keeps you charmed from start to finish. In many ways "Dave" is a much underrated movie because of its amiable, easy going nature which is a shame because the well crafted characters, set pieces and slight detour from being completely formulaic makes for an entertaining 110 minutes.
Good hearted Dave Kovic (Kevin Kline - Chaplin), owner of a temp agency, has an uncanny similarity to President Bill Mitchell, so much so that he is asked to pretend to be the President at an official engagement. But when the President suffers a major stroke whilst in bed with one of his secretaries, Chief of Staff Bob Alexander (Frank Langella - Body of Evidence) hatches a plot to fashion his own path to the number 1 seat and convinces Dave to step in and pretend to be the President for a few weeks. What Bob doesn't account for is when Dave starts to enjoy himself being the President, using his new found position to do good as well as falling for the lovely First Lady Ellen (Sigourney Weaver - Alien 3) who is initially unaware that the man who looks like her husband isn't.
It really isn't a huge surprise that despite being labelled a romantic comedy the emphasis of "Dave" is more on the humour because comedy maestro Ivan Reitman, the man behind the likes of "Ghostbusters" and "Stripes", is the director. It's certainly not your stereotypical Ivan Reitman comedy with over the top tom foolery, as the comedy has a more focussed, adult feel to it where it revolves around the storyline and characters rather than set piece gags. It's certainly a fun movie and the way we watch the good hearted Dave Kovic basically turn around his situation to his advantage is wonderful to watch.
But "Dave" does have a romantic side, the slowly forming friendship between Dave and the first lady played with ease by Sigourney Weaver. In some ways it's a little predictable and you would be hard pushed not to guess the inevitable outcome. But the joy is the path from A to B, the slow progression of the relationship and it has to be said the adult chemistry between the two of them which doesn't fall into being unrealistically cutesy, is a pleasure to watch.
But it is really the characters which make "Dave" work from the good hearted Dave Kovic wonderfully played by Kevin Kline with good natured naivety through to the villainous Chief of staff Bob Alexander, just as brilliantly played by Frank Langella. Along with Sigourney Weaver as the First Lady and Kevin Dunn as the slightly put upon Press officer it's a varied bunch that work in harmony together and the comic timing is spot on. Plus there are various entertaining cameos from such well known faces as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jay Leno as well as a whole bunch of political figures and commentators.
What this all boils down to is that "Dave" is an easy-watch movie one which doesn't over tax you with storyline complexities or try to entertain with outrageous set piece gags. It's a movie which trades on a semi heart warming storyline, a semi political message and a collection of wonderful performances that work perfectly together sharing the screen rather than trying to out do each other.