Dave (film)

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Dave poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Ivan Reitman
Produced by Ivan Reitman
Lauren Shuler Donner
Written by Gary Ross
Starring Kevin Kline
Sigourney Weaver
Music by James Newton Howard
Cinematography Adam Greenberg
Edited by Sheldon Kahn
Northern Lights Entertainment
Lauren Shuler Donner Productions
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release dates
  • May 7, 1993 (1993-05-07)
Running time
110 minutes
Language English
Box office $63,270,710[1]

Dave is a 1993 comedy film directed by Ivan Reitman, written by Gary Ross, and starring Kevin Kline and Sigourney Weaver. Frank Langella, Kevin Dunn, Ving Rhames, and Ben Kingsley appear in supporting roles.


Dave Kovic (Kline) runs a temporary employment agency in Georgetown, Washington, D.C., and has a side job impersonating President Bill Mitchell (Kline). He is requested by Secret Service agent Duane Stevensen (Rhames) to make an appearance as the President at a hotel. Dave assumes it is a matter of security, but it is really to cover up Mitchell's extramarital affair with a White House staffer (Laura Linney).

Mitchell suffers a severe stroke during the rendezvous, leaving him in a coma. White House Chief of Staff Bob Alexander (Langella) and Communications Director Alan Reed (Dunn) convince Dave to continue impersonating the President. They tell him that Vice President Gary Nance (Kingsley) is mentally unbalanced. Only Bob, Alan, the Secret Service, and the medical staff know of the switch. First Lady Ellen Mitchell (Weaver) leads a separate life, rarely seeing the President.

The public is notified that Mitchell has had a "minor circulatory problem of the head." With Dave established as President, Bob and Alan send Nance on a 12-nation goodwill tour of Africa and implicate him in a savings and loan fraud. Once Nance is forced to resign, Bob plans for Dave to nominate him as Vice President, whereupon Mitchell will have a more serious stroke and Bob will ascend to the Presidency.

Dave's enthusiasm revives Mitchell's popularity. He visits a homeless shelter with Ellen, who does not understand why he has taken a sudden interest. Bob forges Mitchell's veto of a funding bill that includes the shelter, ostensibly for budget reasons. Bob offhandedly tells Dave, who was confronted about the veto by Ellen, that if he can cut $650 million from the federal budget he can keep the shelter. Dave has his accountant friend Murray Blum (Grodin) help him rewrite the budget so that the project may be reinstated. A seething Bob is unable to stop him because he does it publicly in front of the press.

Suspecting that he is not really her husband, Ellen tricks Dave into revealing the truth. Dave and Duane show her Bill on life support in the White House basement. She and Dave decide to leave the White House. However, after a night out, they realize all the good they could still do and decide to return.

Dave forces Bob to resign while threatening to go public, then announces a plan to find a job for every American who wants work. Nance returns from Africa and confronts Dave about the savings and loan scandal, insisting that they both know there is no merit to the allegations. He also tells him that the jobs initiative is a wonderful idea but the scandal will make it difficult to pass. Dave talks with Ellen about how Nance is a good and decent man. Realizing what is planned, Ellen tells Dave that she doesn't want to lose him.

Bob reveals Mitchell's involvement in the savings and loan scandal. In a joint session of Congress, Dave admits to Mitchell's role in the scandal, but introduces evidence proving that Bob was the mastermind and Nance was not involved. Bob, watching the session on TV with friends, realizes Alan has betrayed him. During the speech, Dave fakes a stroke and makes a switch with the real Mitchell in an ambulance en route to the hospital. Nance becomes Acting President under the terms of the 25th Amendment and is sworn in as President five months later when Mitchell passes away. Bob and eight other members of the Mitchell Administration are indicted on 34 charges two days after Dave's jobs initiative passes.

Dave decides to run for city council and Ellen comes to the office to volunteer. As they embrace, Duane stands guard outside the office door.



Media personalities


Producer Lauren Shuler Donner and screenwriter Gary Ross had known each other since taking a Stella Adler class in the 1970s, and in 1988 Ross told Shuler Donner his idea for Dave. She approved it, and after the idea was rejected by the studio she was contracted to, Warner Bros. bought the project. Ross wrote the script while working on the Michael Dukakis presidential campaign. Production waited three years for Shuler Donner to be released from her contract and for director Ivan Reitman to become available.

Kevin Kline was hired to play the protagonist, as Reitman considered him to have "a Presidential look" and be an actor "who was both dramatically strong and was light on his feet," as Kline would not only be playing a triple role but the film was a comedy that dealt with very serious subject matter. Reitman then called Sigourney Weaver, with whom he had worked in Ghostbusters, for the First Lady role. Ross was present for production, as he was interested in starting a directing career as well.[2][3]

The film's Oval Office set was reused more than 25 times, for television shows and films like The Pelican Brief, Hot Shots! Part Deux and Absolute Power.[4]



Dave was met with critical acclaim and has a 94% rating based on 54 reviews collected at Rotten Tomatoes. The consensus on the site states: "Ivan Reitman's refreshingly earnest political comedy benefits from an understated, charming script and a breezy performance by Kevin Kline."[5]

Box office[edit]

Dave debuted No. 2 at the box office, behind Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story.[6][7] It later jumped to No. 1, in its second weekend. In total, Dave made over $63 million in the domestic box office, making it a financial success.


Ross was nominated for an Academy Award for his screenplay. Kline's performance was nominated for a Golden Globe Award. Charles Grodin received the American Comedy Award for Funniest Supporting Actor.

Then-President Bill Clinton approved of the film, giving Ross a framed script which Clinton autographed, writing that it was a "funny, often accurate lampooning of politics," and a picture of Clinton holding a Dave mug.[8]

American Film Institute recognition:


  1. ^ "Dave at Box Office Mojo". Retrieved 2010-09-29. 
  2. ^ "Ivan Reitman and Lauren Shuler Donner DAVE Blu-ray Interview". Collider. Retrieved 2013-05-10. 
  3. ^ Priggé, Steven (2004). Movie Moguls Speak: Interviews with Top Film Producers. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. p. 92. ISBN 0-7864-1929-6. 
  4. ^ Linda Lee (April 13, 1997). "Oval Offices, by Way of Hollywood". The New York Times (Nytimes.com). Retrieved 2013-05-10. 
  5. ^ "Dave". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved December 27, 2012. 
  6. ^ Citron, Alan (1993-05-11). "Bruce' and 'Dave's' Excellent Box Office". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-26. 
  7. ^ Fox, David J. (1993-05-11). "Weekend Box Office : 'Dragon' Makes 'Dave' Vice President". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-01-06. 
  8. ^ Scott Kaufer (March 2000). "Strange Bedfellows". Los Angeles Magazine. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2013-05-10. 
  9. ^ AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs Nominees

External links[edit]