Dave Ivan Reitman

DaveIvan Reitman
Arriving in stores just in time for the November U.S. presidential election, the Blu-Ray release of Dave is a savvy piece of marketing. An underrated film in the spotty career of director Ivan Reitman (Ghostbusters, Fathers' Day), the 1993 political comedy is likely the last great effort of his career, to this point. The premise is one that works on a pure wish-fulfillment level, offering a whimsical and heartfelt look at what it would be like for an everyman to be President. Dave (Kevin Kline) owns a modest temp agency when he is scouted as a stand-in for President Mitchell (Kline, naturally in a dual role) at an event because of his uncanny resemblance. He relishes the opportunity, and the role becomes a more permanent one than expected when the Commander-in-chief suffers a stroke while committing adultery, placing him on permanent life support. The chief of staff, Bob Alexander (Frank Langella), attempts to pass Dave off as the real deal to avoid handing the country over to the vice president (Ben Kingsley), but the good-natured Dave begins to settle into the role, developing ambitions beyond the influence of the power-hungry Alexander. A nice touch is the relationship between Dave and the First Lady, Ellen (Sigourney Weaver), as she recognizes that Dave is far more considerate and affectionate than her husband had become and unexpectedly discovers the secret. The screenplay by Gary Ross (Big, The Hunger Games) is smart and funny, sidestepping cliché in favour of subtlety. There is a nice rapport, for instance, between Dave and his secret service agent (Ving Rhames) based on mutual respect, and Rhames is effective in an understated performance. Both Kline and Weaver do some of their finest work, presenting an unlikely romance in an appropriately hesitant fashion that earns the audience's investment. The glue holding everything together is a sweet, yet never saccharine tone, which is aided by the giddy energy of Kline, managing to recall the work of Frank Capra (It's A Wonderful Life). The extras included on the disc are as sparse as you would expect for what was likely a hastily planned tie-in to current events. The only bonus feature is a generic making-of featurette that includes all the usual talking heads and backslapping that are frequently a part of these things. The only difference is that in this case, the accolades are actually warranted for a change. (Warner)