Dave — A Feel-Good Movie That’s Not Stupid or Campy

Ya know. Sometimes you just want a movie that makes you feel good. A movie that makes hope spring – if not eternal – at least for an hour or two. And that’s what the movie “Dave” does. It stars Kevin Kline and Sigourney Weaver in one of the most unlikely scenarios you’ll ever love to believe. I’ve watched it several times and just watched it again.

Dave (Kevin Kline) is just an ordinary guy who has one driving ambition. He wants to get jobs for people. He runs a little temporary employment agency that is staffed with people who are motivated. They want to give people who are down on their luck a fighting chance. A chance to get back some dignity and self-respect as well as a paycheck. And Dave will get a job for someone if he has to use a shoe horn to get them a foothold, or strong-arm personal friends who already have too many employees. And everybody loves Dave. How could they not?

But ordinary Dave has one extraordinary talent. He looks just like the President of the United States. He can pitch his voice the same, and imitate his mannerisms. So as a side job, Dave does marketing promotions doing impersonations of the President. So when the real President, Bill Mitchell, (Kevin Kline) a scumbag of the lowest order, needs a stand-in for a few hours, Secret Service Agent Duane Stevenson (Ving Rhames) hires Dave to do the job. Stevenson is the epitome of the Secret Service strong, silent observer, no flicker of emotion or opinion to mar his granite face. His job is to protect and defend. His opinion of those he protects, and the secrets he keeps, are locked away behind that impenetrable facade.

When the real President suffers a stroke, the powers that be, White House Chief of Staff Bob Alexander (Frank Langella), and Communications Director Alan Reed (Kevin Dunn), decide it is not in the nation’s best interest (or their own) to let anyone know — except, of course, the medical staff who are sequestered with their immobile, comatose patient in a secret facility. Dave is ordered to continue his charade, with one proviso — to keep his mouth shut except to speak carefully worded scripts. Secret Service Agent Duane Stevenson is the only other in the “Need To Know”.

Dave is not let in on the secret of why he is having to “play” president for so long. At first, Dave is kept out of the public eye. The story is that the President has suffered a minor health problem and is resting a few days. In the meantime, Dave is told that Vice-President Gary Nance (Ben Kingsley) is mentally ill and needs to be kept away from any important national decisions. In this vein, Alexander and Reed send Nance on a good will tour of Africa.

Dave is soon to find that all is not well with the State of the Union. And that there are unscrupulous men willing to subvert anything good for their own good. He also finds that the President and First Lady Ellen Mitchell  (Sigourney Weaver), no longer live as man and wife, and, in fact, she loathes her husband, not only as a man but as the most powerful one on earth. Puppetmaster Bob Alexander tries to make sure that the fake president and the real First Lady see very little of each other.

Of course, fate intervenes. Not only is Dave smarter than the average puppet, but Ellen Mitchell isn’t buying the fact that her husband has become a “kinder, gentler” human being overnight just because he supposedly had a brush with mortality.

So the fate of the nation lies not in the hands of an unscrupulous man who was voted into power, but in the heart of a gentle man who naively believes in the power of good. And knowing that his life lies in the hands of a Secret Service agent who knows the truth of Dave’s living lie, he asks Stevenson the vital question – “Since it’s your job to take a bullet for the President if need be — does that mean you would be willing to take a bullet for me”?

That answer lies only in the silence of the agent whose opinion of the most powerful man on earth is kept close to his Kevlar vest, and his lips are sealed until time and circumstance release the truth that rises to a soft but powerful conclusion.

Dave is a movie well worth watching. More than once.

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12 thoughts on “Dave — A Feel-Good Movie That’s Not Stupid or Campy

  1. I agree. Love this movie. I’ve loved Kevin Kline since I first saw him in “Sophie’s Choice” with the incomparable Meryl Streep. I have loved Sigourney Weaver for just as long. They’re both superb actors.

    In other news, I’ve been glued to “Only Time Will Tell” all day. Thank you for saving me from the housework I should have doing. :>) I have the second book, too, “Sins of the Fathers,” and will probably dive into it as soon as I finish the first book.

    Jeffrey Archer’s writing reminds me a lot of Ken Follett’s. Have you read anything by him? He’s one of my top five favorite authors. They both write strong characterizations and complex plots, especially Follett. I like that their books are set in the UK and frequently deal with poverty and adversity. Maybe that’s why I’ve always loved Charles Dickens.

    I plan to watch “Lincoln” tonight. Hubby watched it last night and thought it was overblown. I wonder what I’ll think.

    • You haven’t responded to my comment above, but I wanted to tell you I finished “Only Time Will Tell.” LOVED IT! I couldn’t help thinking if only they’d had DNA testing and paternity tests in those days, there wouldn’t have been a story. I saw the ending coming as soon as Harry chose the name Tom Bradshaw as an alias because it had been pointed out that Tom never talked about his background. I figured it had to be because he was hiding something. Also, if Emma has a baby boy who turns out to be color blind, there will no longer be a question as to who Harry’s father is.

      I noticed one oversight, too. When you sail into NYC harbor, you’re headed northwest. The Statue of Liberty is on your left (to the west.) Harry’s ship arrived in NYC early in the morning and he mentioned having to shade his eyes from the sun to look at the statue and skyscrapers. He would have been looking to the northwest, not the east where the sun was be rising. I know, picky, picky. The author is, after all a Brit who probably never arrived in NYC by ship.

      • Glad you liked the book. I read the post you sent about ordering the books and we weren’t aware that they were available. Chalk it up to the pills at the time because I could have sworn I had replied. Mike and I even looked at the publication date for the first book and saw it was 2010. So we knew then it was a new book for the library, but not a new book. (Glad you keep me up on this stuff). Yesterday I asked the library about the other two and believe it or not they have the second one – only it’s checked out and they have me on a call list. I have recommended a book or two for youth for them and they have bought them both. I also turned in my review of the book. I tried to print it off wordpress, but it doesn’t work. It leaves off lines on the second page, and does other funky stuff. So I have to cut and paste to my old word processor to print it out, which doesn’t look nearly as good.

        Also, you would make a great detective. You have an analytical mind. I would never have caught that snafu if I’d sailed into NY Harbor a hundred times. (Never been there, by the way).

    • Somehow I think I’ve lost a couple of my return postings to you. Sometimes they just disappear before I finish and I can’t tell where they went. I have to come down to the bottom of the post to make sure it doesn’t fly into the netherworld.

      As for Ken Follett, he could be up there in the realms of real literature if he’d keep his overactive mental libido out of it. Pillars of the Earth was at once one of the best and worst books I’ve ever read and I emailed and told him so. I was so angry with him for ruining a perfect book with page after page of gratuitous smut among the awesome characters and beautiful historical writing that I refused to read the other one.

      Another writer in that order whose books I greedily devoured and tried to ignore his perversions (and that’s what they were), is George R. R. Martin. I do read books that are realistically adult, but they can be written with much more power without a play by play. Also, Martin’s books, at the beginning, sucked you in with such power it was like you were enthralled. But, like Robert Jordan (now deceased), he got his plots so twisted he couldn’t find his way out with a compass. Not only that, he killed off every character (and there were a lot of them) you even conceivably might have even a passing interest in. So who cared what happened in the following books. I didn’t and neither did Mike.

      As you can see, the angriest I get is with great writers who toss it all away to titillate some few which might add a sell or two to their account. Or give in to editors who think everybody wants a tit-for-tat bedroom scene. I’ve talked personally to one author who said some editors did that. What I can’t see is, who in the HELL is out there who is disappointed if there aren’t enough F-words or sexual diagrams. Are they trying to learn as they go along?

      Sorry. Somebody poked a very sore spot.

      • I’ve commented before about all the quirks in Word Press. When I type a comment, I highlight and copy the entire comment before I click on “Post Comment” because so many disappear to I know not where in cyberspace. That way, all I have to do is start over and just hit “Paste.” No need to completely rewrite the comment.

        Funny you should mention the “smut” in Ken Follett’s books. If the story is good and so is the writing, I just disregard the gratuitous sex. I guess that works for me because I can’t think of anything in Follett’s books that is like that and I’ve read everything he’s written. I don’t like books that are strictly “chick lit” because they’re too full of sex and little else.

        As for G.R,R.Martin’s books, I agree with you and Mike. How many of the “Song of Ice and Fire” books have you read? I like the first book a lot except for the beheading of Ned Stark. He was too interesting a character to dispose of AT ALL at any point in the series. The second book was OK, but by the time I started the third book, I was getting rather bored with everyone except Tyrion Lannister. I don’t know if you have HBO, but I only read the books because I was so looking forward to their mini-series “Game of Thrones.” I don’t intend to read anymore books in the series. I’ll just watch what HBO does with them. The series is good, especially because they have eliminated A LOT of the superfluous characters and minor sub-plots.

        I prefer my love scenes to be like Jeffrey Archer wrote Emma’s and Harry’s first night together. I KNEW what was going on; it didn’t have to be spelled out in detail for me.

      • I lost another one. I get ahead of myself in trying to reply because my mind is working overtime and I forget the cut and paste or having to go to another spot to find you and reply. Bummer. We (Mike, Katie, and I) have read the first three books in the Game of Thrones, and, like you, was totally blown out by the beheading. We also all loved Tyrion Lannister, but then felt like the author was going to take him into a deeper darker direction with the disgusting way he killed his father (despicable as he was). The killing off of the children’s wolves also left us “bereft” and with a “why were they there in the first place”. Mike and I tried to watch the HBO series and loved the actors (especially the guy who played Tyrion (can’t think of his name though I know it well – halfheimers). But the full frontal nudity seemed to just be harbingers of worse to come. Mike turned it off before I did and said, No more. We were both disappointed.

        You’ll have to re-read Pillars of the Earth. It’s like it’s written by two different authors — a porn writer and a literary master and I’m not sure that’s not what happened.

        Oh, Mike just came in. He said it was Peter Dinklage and we have half-heimers because if one of us can’t remember squat the other one can. As for the HBO series, Mike said they were just transferring the porn from the page to the screen. Like I said, otherwise it was dead-on in character and story. They could have just not been totally brutal in their crap.

        Will get back to you later. Idol’s on here.

      • “Will get back to you later. Idol’s on here.”

        What a surprise, nobody went home. Ryan said it was because the judges hadn’t used their one save, so do you think that means they have forfeited the save and can no longer use it? I guess so.

        I thought Lee DeWyze’s performance was awful. I still don’t understand how he won in season nine.

  2. I love the movie, also. It helps that I live a few miles from the White House and am also named Dave. I even do impersonations sometimes, so, if there is ever a President elected who looks exactly like me, I could play Kevin Kline!

    • Thanks, Dave. You have great taste in movies as well as a great name. LOL. In fact, you are the second “Dave” to “like” the post. He does recitations. Maybe with your impersonations you two could take that show on the road. LOL.Call it Dave and Dave as Dave. Orrrrr. If you could play Kevin — call it “in-Klined”. Okay. Only one cup of coffee here. I’m due for more. Signing off.

  3. “Yesterday I asked the library about the other two and believe it or not they have the second one – only it’s checked out and they have me on a call list.”

    Great, we can read it together. The final book will be published next month.

    “Also, you would make a great detective. You have an analytical mind.”

    Thanks. I enjoy “detective” work. I love digging until I get to the bottom of something and find an elusive answer..

  4. I’ve had that problem with printers cutting off a couple of lines sometimes, too. I have to change the setting on my printer so it thinks the page is smaller. Or, sometimes you can change the entire document to a smaller font.

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