As far as fluffy, forgettable comedies go, you could do much worse than Dave. The film follows the titular character who is hired as a double for the president of the United States do his uncanny likeness. He is used during public ceremonies that the president chooses not to attend, or to fill in for him when the president needs a rest. But after the president gets a severe stroke, the White House Chief of Staff Box Alexander concocts a plan for Dave to pretend to be the president in order for Bob to puppet him from behind the scenes.
As you can probably tell from the synopsis, Dave is as contrived as it is possible for a comedy to be. In not just the plot, but also the film's individual situations, does the affair seem more than a little artificial. As a result, it never really engages on a believable level in the way it should. Still, the solid cast and amiable script (penned by Gary Ross) keeps things pleasant and amusing, if unremarkable.
While the plot points may not feel organic, the humor generally does. Genuine belly laughs are scarce, but the chuckles come at an acceptable rate. The entire affair is gentle and affable, coming off as quite refreshing compared to today's crude and obnoxious film's billed as comedies.
The funniest portions of the film are sadly the most underused. The commentary of American media personalities and politicians (often played by the living article!) on the sudden change of the President's demeanor are the smartest and most interesting segments. They cleverly satirize themselves and public politics in general without winking too much.
Kevin Kline is very likable in the lead role as Dave, while Sigourney Weaver as the first lady delivers a good performance from a cliched character with a tired arc. The supporting cast (especially Frank Langella and a single scene appearance by Bonnie Hunt) is very nice as well.
Dave is a completely by-the-numbers comedy, never really surprising or subverting. And yet, it's fairly likable, if ultimately forgettable and weightless. The 110 minute run-time is a tad long, and its plot contrivances get some eye-rolls, but it's completely harmless and occasionally funny.
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