Februrary 13, 2013
Kevin Kline, Sigourney Weaver, Frank Langella, and Ving Rhames
When I first sat down to come up with this list, one of the
things that I wanted to do was spotlight certain actors.
I didn't want to only write about movies that I thought were
underloved, some of the time I also wanted to write about actors that I
thought were underloved. Even if the movies they were in
weren't always, you know, all that memorable.
Naturally, one of the actors that I wanted to write about the most was
Kevin Kline. Who, ever since I saw him completely own A Fish
Called Wanda in 1988, I have always felt was one of the most unheralded
comedic actors out there.
Also, he wins because he nailed Phoebe Cates
So I sat down and I thought for a while about which Kevin Kline movies
I wanted to write about. Obviously A Fish Called Wanda
is a biggie. But then again AFCW is not
really a movie that is all that underloved (a lot of people still
consider it to be the funniest movie of the late 80's). So if
I write about that movie it will probably be much later in the year.
Actually, strike that. I will -definitely- write
about it much later in the year. For reasons of... well, you
will see when we get there.
In any case, besides A Fish Called Wanda, what is another good Kevin
Kline movie that showcases how good he is as an actor?
And after thinking about it for a while, the answer became pretty
Well clearly I should write about Dave.
Dave is a cute and inoffensive and completely charming little comedy
from 1993. It is also a movie that pretty much everyone and
their mother has already seen, so it's not really as unknown as a lot
of my other selections have been. However, as well known as
it is, it is also the type of movie that I bet most people haven't
watched in a long time. It is so innocent and it is so sweet
and it is so light that it isn't the type of movie that most people
will be impressed with and will immediately run out and buy.
No, I can probably count on one hand all the people I know
who actually own a copy of Dave.
If you have never seen it before, Dave is the story of a simple
ordinary man named Dave Kovic. He is a lot like you and me,
there isn't anything special or remarkable about him. He is
just a normal guy who runs a job placement agency in Washington D.C.
and who rides a bike to work. That is pretty much it.
Oh and he cares about people and he is kinda nice.
his hair is slowly turning gray. That is really about all I
can say about him.
Like I said before, there is nothing remarkable about Dave except for
If you look at his face, he is a dead ringer for the president.
Through no fault of his own, through nothing he has ever done,
or tried to do, through a simple twist of fate he happens to
be an exact replica of the man in the White House, President Bill
And this is where the movie takes off.
The Secret Service learns about Dave (and the fact that he has a part
time job as a President Mitchell Impersonator), and they decide to hire
him as one of the President's body doubles. You know, for
security reasons. And also for White House functions.
Basically they want him to walk around after speeches so that
the media will focus on him, and the real President can be quietly
whisked away to safety (and a tryst with his secret mistress) in an
At first, Dave (a very humble man) isn't too sure he wants to be a part
of something like this. This is kind of a big deal.
But eventually the President's advisors persuade him.
They pull him aside and they tell him that if he loves
America, if he wants to help his country, this is the best way for him
to show it.
Well, eventually Dave gives in. Eventually they guilt trip
him into impersonating Bill Mitchell.
And the first time he feels the rush of what it is like to be
President, he actually gets a kick out of it.
Dave impersonating the President for the first time
Unfortunately there are two problems with the plan to have Dave
impersonate the President. And both Dave and the advisors run
into these problems fairly quickly.
The first problem is that the real President Mitchell is an ass.
He is a grade-A unlikable piece of shit horse's ass.
And everyone hates him. Heck, even his own wife
(Sigourney Weaver) hates him. And since everyone thinks that
Dave is the real president, well naturally now they all hate Dave.
And this is a little bit stressful to a guy who is super nice
and who has never made an enemy in his life.
Dave had no idea that the President was this hated until he walked in
The First Lady telling Dave he is a piece of shit
Oh, and the second little problem?
Well on his romantic vacation getaway with his mistress, President Bill
Mitchell has a heart attack and dies. Right in the middle of
having sex with her. And naturally, since A) no one in
America knew that the President even had a mistress, and B) since
everyone in America thinks that Dave is the President and he is sitting
there happily in the White House, the advisors realize that they now
have a bit of a problem on their hands.
On the spur of the moment, they decide that they are going to have to
pass Dave off as the President for a little while longer. At
least, long enough until they can decide how they are going to spin
Dave getting an emergency crash course on how the government works
Simply put, Dave is the story of an ordinary man who becomes President
for a day, and then it turns out to be real. One day he is
just pretending to be President, and then the next day he IS President.
And the only people who know what really happened are Dave
himself and his two top advisors. Everyone else in America
(including the First Lady) still thinks he is Bill Mitchell and they
all still hate his guts.
The First Lady looking on in disbelief as her husband actually plays
Dave is one of those heartwarming little comedies that might not be all
that spectacular, but it is almost impossible not to like. In
fact I would be shocked if I get even -one- piece of feedback where
somebody says that they hated this movie. Stuff like The
Kentucky Fried Movie, or Open Water, or even Forrest Gump? I
could certainly understand if a person tells me that they didn't like
those movies (well okay I don't really understand Forrest Gump hate,
but whatever, your conscience.) But with Dave? No,
this is one of those movies that everyone seems to know. And
everyone seems to like. In fact, I would rank it right up
there along with The Princess Bride and Back to the Future as movies
that I don't think it would be even be possible for a person
However, again, what I am mostly writing about here is Kevin Kline.
Because while a lot of people might like the movie Dave, I
don't think a lot of people truly LOVE the movie Dave. And
you should love it, because it features a wonderful double role by the
amazing Kevin Kline.
I wouldn't say that Dave is his all time best performance in a movie
ever. But that is only because he is amazing in EVERY SINGLE
MOVIE HE HAS EVER BEEN IN. And Dave is right up there along
with any of his best performances ever. I mean, it isn't as
flashy as Otto in A Fish Called Wanda, but that is like saying that the
Mona Lisa isn't as flashy as the Statue of David. Once you
get to that level of craftsmanship it is hard to criticize anything
about either one of them.
In Dave, Kevin Kline gets to play two roles. He plays
everyman Dave Kovic, and he plays douchebag Bill Mitchell.
And both roles are completely believable. And both
roles are completely distinct. Dave Kovic and Bill Mitchell
don't have the slightest thing in common (aside from the
face), and that is really tough to do when you are playing two
characters. Even though they look exactly alike, you can tell
if Kline is playing Dave or if he is playing the President simply by
the way that he walks around and the way that he carries himself.
Heck, and then later in the movie, you get Kline playing Dave
as if Dave was doing an impression of the President. And that
is kind of even a THIRD character he is now playing. And even
THAT character is different.
Kline playing Dave trying to impersonate the President
Simply put, Kevin Kline is an actor who should have won a buttload of
awards in his career. He should just have a
room full of them. But he really doesn't have that.
And I don't know why that is. Who knows, maybe that
is just the way he likes it, maybe he just prefers to stay anonymous.
But he is so good in everything that he has ever done, and
Dave is one of his unsung masterpieces.
This is one of those movies that you should go watch again,
and you should watch how good Kevin Kline really is in it.
This time, don't pay attention to the movie, or the
storyline, (which is good, don't get me wrong) just pay attention to
Kevin Kline. Watch the subtle little differences he throws in
when he is playing Dave, or when he is playing Bill Mitchell, or when
he is playing Dave doing an impression of Bill Mitchell. I'm
not sure that Tom Hanks could have even played those roles as
effectively as Kevin Kline did.
Like I said before, I am interested in the kind of feedback I am going
to get about this entry. I am expecting a lot of "Dave isn't
underloved. Everyone likes that movie, you must be crazy."
I am also expecting a lot of "Dave is awesome, I love that
movie!" I am not expecting to get a single "Fuck Dave, I hate
that movie." Honestly, if you hate a movie like Dave, I'm not
sure what kind of movie you -would- like. It was specifically
designed to be an audience pleaser. You would have to possess
a pretty black heart to hate this movie like this.
However, the feedback I am -most- interested in getting is this one:
"Kevin Kline is amazing." If I get a lot of
feedback like that, well then I will know that this entry was a
Dave is one of those movies that should be loved just because it is "a
Kevin Kline movie." And unfortunately there aren't
very many of those.
favorite IMDB user reviews about Dave:
Kevin Kline Raises the
Film to a New Level - 19 September 2000
should have been a pure mess of a movie, but instead it is a highly
enjoyable film which has great elements of comedy and drama. Kevin
Kline stars as the title character who must impersonate the president
of the United States after the real president suffers a massive heart
attack which has left him in a coma. "Dave" goes for laughs, but also
has a great deal of drama which keeps the audience intrigued
throughout. Frank Langella does some of the best work of his career.
Sigourney Weaver, Ving Rhames, Charles Grodin, and Ben Kingsley are all
perfectly cast in supporting roles. The screenplay is smart and the
direction never loses its focus.
One of the best - 31
I won't lie to you. I think Kevin Kline is one of my favorite actors of
all time. Now, that doesn't mean that I instantly love everything he
does (*cough*French Kiss*cough*). That said, this film really shows him
off as the incredible actor that he is and also deals with a very real
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
Kevin Kline's Performance
Excellently Entertaining - 24 August 2006
think the most of the comments about this movie are fair. It is naive,
improbable and, at times preachy. However, I disagree with any
characterization of Kevin Kline's performance as less than great,
whether he is portraying President Mitchell, standing in for him
officially or doing an improv'. The segment toward the end of the film,
when he and Sigourney Weaver are pulled over for the turn violation,
and they do their version of "Tomorrow" from "Annie" is absolutely
hilarious. This is one of those films that, for some reason or another,
I keep going back to watch every so often, mainly because of its
entertainment and values orientation. Our President and Congressional
Delegations should care more about us than themselves. I'm still
waiting, but I haven't seen that happen yet, nor have I seen a movie
about the President of Slovenia. When I do I'll be sure to comment on
A personal favorite from
the 90s. - 23 April 2012
Prisoner of Zenda. Moon over Parador. The Man in the Iron Mask. A
look-alike impersonates a national leader. This idea has been used
before. Heck, Robert Heinlein won the Hugo award almost 60 years ago
with this old gag in his book Double Star.
But Kevin Kline
gives it wide-eyed freshness as a likable nobody who finds himself
playing the U.S. president and romancing the first lady. And the
audience gets an insider's view of Washington's corridors of power and
the schemers who make their living there.
It's a far-fetched
piece of whimsy, but the treatment is clever, adult, romantic and
sharply satirical and the result is a winning confection of a film with
beautiful comedic timing.
A well-intentioned shot
of political idealism - 13 July 2012
Ivan Reitman's "Dave" is a movie so idealist and well-meaning that
it'll warm the hearts of even the most cynical Americans.
Kline plays Dave Kovic, a small-town guy with a big heart who runs an
employment agency. Dave's also a dead ringer for President Bill
Mitchell and finds himself conscripted to stand in for Mitchell after
the commander-in-chief suffers a stroke during an extramarital
rendezvous. The naive idealist finds himself in an administration
entrenched in cronyism and an embittered First Lady (Sigourney Weaver).
And it doesn't take long for Washington to notice the changes in the
no-longer-a-douche Bill Mitchell, as Dave sets out to use his power to
make the country a better place ... while falling in love with Mrs.
"Dave" makes no bones about its politics (which are
worn on its sleeve), but ideology in this case is irrelevant. I's a
story that puts the non-politician in the shoes of the most powerful
position (may as well be a sly nod to Frank Capra's "Mr. Smith Goes to
Washington"). Such an endeavor (especially with the extreme rhetoric of
current politics) is nothing short of refreshing.
Which is no
doubt helped by the light-hearted romantic comedy nature of the film.
Kline is at his most endearing in this role, Weaver her most charming
and the supporting cast (Kevin Dunn, Frank Langella, Ving Rhames and
Charles Grodin) is incredible.
It's light and fluffy, but utterly likable in every way.
Funny, sweet, and totally
totally feel good - 7 January 2013
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.
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
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.
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
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.
favorite trivia about Dave:
* The president's full name in the movie is William Harrison Mitchell.
William Henry Harrison was a real president elected in 1840
first president to die in office. The vice president in the movie is
named Nance; John Nance Garner was Franklin D. Roosevelt's vice
president for two terms, and once derided the job as not being "worth a
pitcher of warm piss" (bowdlerized at the time and often misquoted as
* In one of the press conferences, there's a Clamp Cable Network camera
from Gremlins 2: The New Batch, which starred Kevin Kline's wife,
* Kevin Kline got the part after Warren Beatty and Kevin Costner both
turned it down.
* Ivan Reitman offered Howard Stern a cameo role as himself but Stern
turned it down. Reitman would later produce Stern's film debut, Private
* When they are swearing Gary Nance as president, they refer to him as
the 45th president of the United States. This means that Mitchell would
be the 44th. George W. Bush is the 43rd President of the United States.
Barack Obama is the 44th President of the United States.
* Real life US president at the time Bill Clinton was a big fan of the
favorite scene in Dave:
The Oliver Stone/conspiracy scene is a classic. If you aren't
familiar with Oliver Stone, he is the director who made JFK
and who is convinced that there has always been a JFK assassination
conspiracy. Well he shows up in Dave as a guest on a talk
show, and he shows pictures backing up his argument
that President Mitchell has been replaced by a double (which
is actually true). But naturally, since he is Oliver Stone
the Conspiracy Nut, no one believes him. I always thought
that was cute.
at the IMDB
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