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The Greatest President We Never Had
by Tim Josephs

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So, it's Election Day, and I hope everyone gets out and votes! Though, to be honest, I'm really not one to talk; the last politician I voted for was Mayor McCheese, and I'm still waiting for the quintuple quarter-pounder he promised.

Anyway, I thought now would be the perfect time to talk about a great presidential movie that recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of its release: DAVE.

For those who don't know, DAVE is about a simple man who runs a temp agency. He's just a normal guy, except for his uncanny resemblance to the President. So, naturally, when the President has a stroke and falls into a coma while having "presidential relations" with an aide, the puppet masters decide to use Dave as their, well, puppet.

If you think the plot sounds silly, you're not wrong. It's one of those "only in the movies"-type scenarios that requires you to really suspend
your disbeliefs for a while.

This movie could've gone wrong in a number of ways, but thanks to very good acting and writing, it managed to transcend the silly plot and become a terrific film.

Kevin Kline is a great comedic actor and his skills are on full display in DAVE. The way he clumsily adjusts to the White House, the First Lady, and his presidential obligations is priceless.

On a side note, Kline seemed to have disappeared for a while. Looking at his filmography, aside from LAST VEGAS, which appears to be running commercials on an endless loop, most of the titles of his films are unfamiliar to me. Perhaps he was just content to do smaller movies (with the knowledge that he could always go home to the excruciatingly lovely Phoebe Cates).

The supporting cast in DAVE is equally good. Sigourney Weaver perfectly plays the serious and disillusioned First
Lady who begins to like Dave when she realizes who he is (or, more accurately, who he isn't).

Ving Rhames, the even more serious Secret Service agent, begrudgingly accepts Dave as the imposter at first, but soon warms to his affability and even eventually decides that he'd take a bullet for him.

Frank Langella, who always seems to play a good bad guy, is excellent as the conniving Chief of Staff who has his eyes on his own presidential candidacy.

The best aspect of the film is that Dave just feels like an everyman. He's not a career politician so he sees everything through the eyes of someone who has a 9 to 5 job to go to everyday.

A great example of this is when he brings in Murray, his accountant friend -- played by the great Charles Grodin -- to look at the budget. Murray is disgusted with the way the federal books are handled ("If I ran my
business like this, I'd be out of business") and he and Dave spend the night cutting the budget over bratwurst and hot mustard.

As good as the movie is, it's also rather frustrating. Wouldn't it be great if our President was honest with us? Wouldn't it be awesome if he (or she) genuinely cared about people and did things with a bit of humor? Wouldn't it be wonderful if our President felt like one of us, and not some rich person who doesn't seem to be able to relate? (And I'm not talking about some jackass who feels like he'd be cool to have a beer with.)

That, in a nutshell, is the beauty and exasperation of DAVE. Sure, Vice President Nance might be a fine President, but most likely, it will just be business as usual in D.C.

President Obama seems cool and he can be funny and charming, but he's no Dave. Maybe it'll take another 20 years before we get a President like him.

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Movie Musings
Every other Tuesday

Thoughts, observations, conjectures, complaints about movies and mostly how they relate to me personally. If you're looking for something a little broader, try Ebert.

Other Columns
Other columns by Tim Josephs:

So Long 2013, and MatchFlickers!

The Season for Peace, Presents, & Puncture Wounds

Women are Once Again Kicking Ass

Chewing the Scenery

Comparing Two of the Best Horror Movies Ever Made

All Columns

Tim Josephs
Born to write (literally much to the displeasure of his mother, he emerged with a pencil clutched in one tiny fist), Tim spends most of his days crafting epic monosyllabic poems, new comical titles to his favorite Beatles' songs (Hey, Dude), and angry letters to local businesses that have wronged him in some way. He's really an okay guy once you get to know him.

If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Tim Josephs by clicking here.

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