Kevin Kline plays Dave Kovic – an ordinary guy who runs a small employment agency in Baltimore. There isn’t much to notice about Dave, except the fact that he also happens to look exactly like the 44th President of the United States.
So this nice guy is hired to impersonate the slimy, treacherous womanising crook for a boring personal appearance gig while the real President is busy boffing his secretary.
Nobody is more surprised than Dave when the President suffers a stroke in the Kama Sutra guide book and the consummately ruthless Chief of Staff (Frank Langella) recruits the stand-in to fill the job indefinitely.
As the novelty of the situation accelerates to panic, Dave finds himself changing the course of history while falling for the icy First Lady (Sigourney Weaver). What happens next is Frank Capra meets the Clinton administration while America rediscovers itself.
Juicy and innocent nonsense, of course, but the hokum will hook you because it unfolds without the usual idiot jokes and Animal House humour that almost always mire political satires in vulgarity.
Gary Ross, a political speechwriter who co-authored Big, knows how to tickle the funny bone without brain damage. The contrasts between Dave’s naiveté and White House cynicism are adroitly compiled, and Mr. Kline milks maximum sincerity from every situation.
From the first moment Sigourney Weaver sees him in the shower, she knows there’s more to Dave than the Oval Office or the Lincoln bedroom have seen before, but it takes her too long to defrost.
When she finally joins him in his fight against corruption, deception and political chicanery, you wonder why it took her so long to see in Dave all the sweetness and decency everybody else has seen from the start.
Faith Prince, wasted in a conciliatory role as Dave’s secretary, turns a small opportunity into a big impression, and the White House sets look incredibly real.
Dave Kovic/President Bill Mitchell
Vice-president Gary Nance
White House tour guide
Anna Deavere Smith