Starring: Kevin Kline, Sigourney Weaver, Frank Langella
Director: Ivan Reitman
Running Time: 110 mins
Dave is an American film about the chaos that ensues as the White House hires a lookalike of the President of the United States to take control of the Oval Office after the real President suddenly falls ill.
This film was a fantastic surprise. Its premise is beyond ludicrous, and seems like it would make for something completely moronic, but Dave is actually a very entertaining and surprisingly intelligent comedy-drama that features some excellent performances, great comedy, and an excellent political plot that made for a far more engrossing watch than I could have ever expected.
But let’s start at the beginning. The premise for this film feels right at home in the late 80s-early 90s era of Hollywood comedy, in that it’s something totally ridiculous and farcical taken to big-budget and high-stakes levels. You’d think, then, that it would be just another run-of-the-mill comedy, but that’s far from the truth.
This is undoubtedly a funny film, and with a brilliant central performance by Kevin Kline, there are laughs left, right and centre, all of which make for a movie that can simply be enjoyed as a solid Hollywood comedy.
However, the real triumph of Dave is in how it mixes that comedy with such a strong story. Even nominated for a Best Original Screenplay Oscar, it’s so great to see writer Gary Ross make such a clever and different story work so well with Ivan Reitman’s excellent comedy-drama.
So, rather than it watching two hours of a man posing as the President and getting into all sorts of comical misunderstandings, there’s some brilliant character development throughout the movie, not only on the side of our main character, but those around him, and it makes for a far more interesting watch than what you’d expect.
What’s more is that, as well as some excellent depth of character, the screenplay here has some great fun with an intriguing political plot. Rather than focusing on the comedy surrounding the main character, we get a brilliantly original and still entertaining political story about the balance of power in Washington, the role of the media, and the difference between the President that we, the voters, know and the real man behind the desk.
That’s way more insight than numerous political dramas and biographies can ever pull off, and that’s why this film is such a brilliant surprise. Funny, enjoyable and brilliantly intelligent, there’s a lot to sink your teeth into here, all the while spending two hugely entertaining hours.
As well as the excellent writing, there are some absolutely brilliant performances here. Kevin Kline is dynamite in the lead role, and carries out both the comedy and the drama of his character fantastically, whilst the likes of Sigourney Weaver and Ving Rhames add even more to that in their supporting roles.
But the best performance by a mile in this film has to be from Frank Langella. He plays the President’s closest aide who uses the crisis at the White House in order to strengthen his own powers, and he does it hilariously. As well as getting under your skin as a great villain, he’s almost comically villainous in the way he goes about everything, and that helps to reaffirm the film’s light-hearted vibe all the while carrying out its brilliant story.
If there is one problem that I have with this film, then it’s the pacing. As strong and engrossing as the story is, this film feels way much longer than it really is. Although I had a good time watching it, there were times throughout when things really didn’t feel like they were moving along, and it occasionally makes for a bit of frustration as we get towards the thick end of 110 minutes.
On the whole, however, I was really impressed by Dave. Not only a hugely entertaining comedy, but a surprisingly intelligent and intriguing political satire that had me far more engrossed than I could have ever expected, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.7.