Jump to content

Dave (film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Theatrical release poster
Directed byIvan Reitman
Written byGary Ross
Produced byIvan Reitman
Lauren Shuler Donner
CinematographyAdam Greenberg
Edited bySheldon Kahn
Music byJames Newton Howard
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
  • May 7, 1993 (1993-05-07)
Running time
110 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$28 million[1]
Box office$92 million[2]

Dave is a 1993 American political comedy film directed by Ivan Reitman, written by Gary Ross, and starring Kevin Kline and Sigourney Weaver. Frank Langella, Kevin Dunn, Laura Linney, Ving Rhames, Charles Grodin, and Ben Kingsley appear in supporting roles. Dave was a box office success, and was met with critical acclaim.


Dave Kovic runs a temporary employment agency in Georgetown, Washington, D.C., and, as a side job, capitalizes on his remarkable resemblance to President Bill Mitchell by comically impersonating him at events. Secret Service agent Duane Stevenson recruits him to impersonate Mitchell after a speech, ostensibly as a security precaution, but actually to allow Mitchell to meet Randi, a White House staffer with whom he is having an affair.

Dave's appearance goes well, but Mitchell suffers a major stroke while having sex with Randi. His Chief of Staff, Bob Alexander, is inspired to ask Dave to continue in his role. Bob's scheme is to force Vice President Gary Nance to resign by embroiling him in a savings and loan scandal; then Dave, acting as Mitchell, will appoint Bob vice president; then Dave will fake a more serious stroke and Bob will become president. Communications Director Alan Reed is initially hesitant, but eventually acquiesces and tells the press corps the stroke was minor. Claiming that Nance is mentally unstable, Bob and Alan convince Dave he must continue impersonating Mitchell for the good of the country. Nance is sent on a goodwill tour of Africa.

Dave's charm and enthusiasm improves Mitchell's image and popularity. First Lady Ellen Mitchell, who has been estranged from her husband for years, initially suspects nothing and treats Dave with contempt on the few occasions they see each other. When she sees Dave's empathy towards a shy boy at a homeless shelter she is a staunch advocate for, she begins to soften towards him. Her fury returns, though, after Bob forges Mitchell's signature on the veto of a bill that included funding for the shelter. Dave, after consulting his accountant friend Murray Blum, works with the Cabinet to restore the funding. A furious Bob threatens to destroy Dave, but Alan vows to expose their scheme if he does.

Ellen, having witnessed Dave's considerable efforts to save the shelter, tricks him into admitting he's an impostor and asks to see her husband. Dave has Duane escort them to the secret hospital room beneath the White House, where Mitchell remains in a coma. They are told he won't recover. They both resolve to leave the White House, but after spending a night out alone together, they begin to fall in love. Ellen tells Dave she's gone along with the charade of a happy marriage because she thought that as First Lady, she could help people. Dave tells her he wishes he could.

The next day, Dave, still as Mitchell, calls a press conference, making Bob furious that Dave is no longer obeying him. Dave fires Bob, who in turn tries to fire him, but Dave dares Bob to tell the press about the switch. At the press conference, Dave announces a monumental plan to provide a job to every American who wants one.

Nance returns from Africa and confronts Dave for trying to frame him for crimes of which Bob and the real Mitchell are actually guilty. In retaliation against Dave, Bob reveals evidence implicating Mitchell in the scandal, which Alan admits is true. Despite talk of impeachment, Dave refuses to back off his jobs plan, while Bob quietly begins to garner support for a presidential run.

During a joint session of Congress, Dave admits that Bob's allegations are true and produces proof, provided by Alan, that shows that Bob was also involved, and that Nance is innocent. After Dave apologizes to Nance and the country, he fakes another stroke; switching places with Mitchell, he resumes his previous life. The hospital pronounces the "second" stroke as major, and Mitchell continues to lie in a coma for five more months before dying. As acting president and then president, Nance backs the jobs plan, which becomes law. Bob and several Mitchell administration officials are indicted, while Alan continues working in the White House.

Dave runs for the D.C. city council with the help of Murray and his employment agency staff. Dave is surprised one day when Ellen visits. He escorts her into his office, where they share their first kiss. Dave closes the shades to give them privacy and Duane, wearing one of Dave's campaign buttons, steps in front of the door.



Media personalities

Senators Al D'Amato, Lloyd Bentsen, and Daniel Patrick Moynihan were scheduled to make cameo appearances in the film but withdrew in protest of Warner Records's decision to release Body Count's song "Cop Killer." NBC also prohibited Andrea Mitchell from making a planned appearance in the film.[3]


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. Ross wrote the script while working on the Michael Dukakis presidential campaign during the 1988 election, and he was inspired by the Iran-contra affair. Ross also received advice from First Lady Barbara Bush's press secretary Anna Perez. Shuler Donner approved it, but her employer Walt Disney Productions refused to release it while a conservative such as Ronald Reagan or George H. W. Bush held the presidency. Warner Bros. bought the project with the intent to have it directed by Shuler Donner's husband Richard Donner, but he decided against continuing with the project in 1990. Production was delayed by three years to wait for Shuler Donner to be released from her contract with Disney and for director Ivan Reitman to become available.[3]

According to Reitman, Warner Bros. wanted a box office star to portray the lead role and that one executive even suggested Arnold Schwarzenegger to play the part.[4] Michael Keaton was briefly cast in the role but had to drop out. Both Warren Beatty and Kevin Costner were also considered for the role.[3] In fact, it was Beatty who brought Dave to Reitman's attention. Kevin Kline almost turned down the role because he thought he would be playing the same character he played in A Fish Called Wanda.[5]

Nevertheless, 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 double 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.[6] Ross was present for production, as he was interested in starting a directing career as well.[7]

Filming began on August 13, 1992, in Los Angeles and Washington D.C. White House interior sets were filmed at Warner Bros. Studios, Burbank while exterior scenes were filmed at the Los Angeles County Arboretum in Arcadia, California. The film's Oval Office set was constructed based on a replica at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and would be reused more than 25 times, for television shows and films such as The Pelican Brief, In the Line of Fire, Hot Shots! Part Deux and Absolute Power.[3][8]


Box office[edit]

Dave debuted at number 2 at the US box office, behind Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story.[9][10] It reached number 1 in its second weekend. In total, Dave made $63.3 million in the United States and Canada and $28.5 million internationally for a worldwide total of $91.8 million.[11][2]

Critical response[edit]

Dave was met with critical acclaim. It has a 95% approval rate and an average score of 7.6 out of 10 on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 62 reviews. The critic's consensus states: "Ivan Reitman's refreshingly earnest political comedy benefits from an understated, charming script and a breezy performance by Kevin Kline."[12] It has a score of 76 out of 100 Metacritic, based on 30 reviews.[13]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three and a half stars out of four. Ebert praised the film's acting and wrote, "Dave takes that old plot about an ordinary person who is suddenly thrust into a position of power, and finds a fresh way to tell it. [...] When I first heard this story line, I imagined that Dave would be completely predictable. I was wrong. The movie is more proof that it isn't what you do, it's how you do it: Ivan Reitman's direction and Gary Ross's screenplay use intelligence and warmhearted sentiment to make Dave into wonderful lighthearted entertainment. [...] Both Kline and Weaver are good at playing characters of considerable intelligence, and that's the case here. The movie may be built on subtle variations of the Idiot Plot (in which the characters skillfully avoid tripping over obvious conclusions), but they bring such particular qualities to their characters that we almost believe them."[14]

Then-President Bill Clinton approved of the film, and gave Ross a framed script, which Clinton had autographed, writing that it was a "funny, often accurate lampooning of politics." Clinton also gave Ross a picture of himself holding a Dave mug.[15]


Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
Academy Awards Best Screenplay – Written Directly for the Screen Gary Ross Nominated [16]
American Comedy Awards Funniest Actor in a Motion Picture (Leading Role) Kevin Kline Nominated
Funniest Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture Charles Grodin Won
ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards Top Box Office Films James Newton Howard Won
Golden Globe Awards Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Nominated [17]
Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Kevin Kline Nominated
Political Film Society Awards Democracy Nominated
Writers Guild of America Awards Best Screenplay – Written Directly for the Screen Gary Ross Nominated [18]

Other media[edit]


A musical based on the movie opened at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., in July 2018. The book is written by Thomas Meehan and Nell Benjamin, with music by Tom Kitt.[19][20] The production is directed by Tina Landau and stars Drew Gehling as Dave and Douglas Sills as Chief of Staff Bob Alexander.[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "AFI-Catalog". catalog.afi.com.
  2. ^ a b "Top 100 grossers worldwide, '93-94". Variety. 17 October 1994. p. M-56.
  3. ^ a b c d "Dave". catalog.afi.com. Archived from the original on 28 March 2019. Retrieved 2 December 2021.
  4. ^ "Dave: Kevin Kline and Ivan Reitman". Special Broadcasting Service. 12 October 1993. Retrieved 4 February 2018.
  5. ^ King, Susan (7 May 2018). "'Dave' at 25: Why Kevin Kline Initially Turned Down the Role and Ivan Reitman Walked Away From the Political Comedy". Variety. Retrieved 23 June 2018.
  6. ^ "Ivan Reitman and Lauren Shuler Donner DAVE Blu-ray Interview". Collider. 24 September 2012. Retrieved 10 May 2013.
  7. ^ Priggé, Steven (2004). Movie Moguls Speak: Interviews with Top Film Producers. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. p. 92. ISBN 0-7864-1929-6.
  8. ^ Lee, Linda (13 April 1997). "Oval Offices, by Way of Hollywood". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 May 2013.
  9. ^ Citron, Alan (11 May 1993). "Bruce' and 'Dave's' Excellent Box Office". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 26 October 2010.
  10. ^ Fox, David J. (11 May 1993). "Weekend Box Office : 'Dragon' Makes 'Dave' Vice President". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 6 January 2011.
  11. ^ "Dave". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 29 September 2010.
  12. ^ "Dave". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 25 February 2024.
  13. ^ "Dave". Metacritic. Retrieved 13 March 2024.
  14. ^ Ebert, Roger (7 May 1993). "Dave Movie Review & Summary (1993)". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 8 July 2016.
  15. ^ Scott Kaufer (March 2000). "Strange Bedfellows". Los Angeles Magazine. Retrieved 10 May 2013.
  16. ^ "The 66th Academy Awards". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 2 July 2017.
  17. ^ "Dave – Golden Globes". HFPA. Retrieved 5 July 2021.
  18. ^ Fox, David J. (14 March 1994). "'Schindler's' Adds a Pair to the List : Awards: Spielberg epic takes more honors--for screenwriting and editing. Jane Campion's 'The Piano' also wins". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 3 July 2017.
  19. ^ "Dave – Productions – Shows / Tickets – Arena Stage". arenastage.org. Archived from the original on 8 July 2018. Retrieved 29 March 2018.
  20. ^ "Starry Creative Team to Debut Musical Adaptation of Dave at Arena Stage".
  21. ^ Gans, Andrew. "World Premiere of 'Dave' Musical, Starring Drew Gehling and Mamie Parris, Opens at Arena Stage July 27" Playbill, 27 July 2018

External links[edit]