'Dave': THR's 1993 Review
On May 7, 1993, Warner Bros. unveiled Ivan Reitman's political comedy Dave in theaters. The film went on to nab an original screenplay nomination for Gary Ross at the 66th Academy Awards ceremony. The Hollywood Reporter's original review is below:
Warner Bros. has a sleeper candidate for big box office in Dave, a charming satire of the U.S. presidency. Starring Kevin Kline as a sweet-natured Everyman who is asked to double as the president, and then gets stuck in the job, Dave should draw from every constituency.
Serious moviegoers will be swayed by its many Being There-like similarities as Kline's engaging personality and good-natured beatitudes are a perfect bromide for the nation's ills.
In this soft but brainy satire, Kline stars as the owner of a small employment agency for temps in D.C. who gets his kicks appearing at minor social openings as the country's president, a curt and somewhat nasty demagogue who is two-faced in all his dealings. President Mitchell (also played by Kline) most particularly needs Dave's doubling services when he is two-timing his first lady (Sigourney Weaver).
During one of these assignations, the not-so-good president suffers a stroke and his Machiavellian chief of staff (Frank Langella) calls upon Dave to fill in for a few days. Dave's presidential stint turns out to be of longer duration and considerably more arduous than the good-natured chap initially understands.
Layering this sweet comedic story with some sharp, editorial barbs, screenwriter Gary Ross has fashioned an engaging, brainy comedy. Director Ivan Reitman's wacky comedic sensibility ignites the hilarity of the situation, particularly with a swell of nifty sight gags and visual slants on the trappings of power.
It's Kline's versatile lead performance, however, that lifts Dave to highest comedic office. Kline's exuberantly good-natured portrayal of the uncommon man of the moment, as well as his acerbically ill-willed portrait of the scenario's chief executive, is a marvel of comedic accomplishment.
Highest plaudits to Weaver for her convincing portrayal of the long-suffering first lady and a medal of distinction to Langella for his masterfully malevolent rendition of the chief executive's power-mongering chief of staff. In a supporting role as Dave's Nervous Nelly friend, Charles Grodin is a terrific reactive character. — Duane Byrge, originally published on April 23, 1993.