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'Dave': Would Totally Wear a Mask
By Michael S. Goldberger, iBerkshires Film Critic
03:12PM / Friday, August 14, 2020
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I wish that I were reviewing one of the half-dozen movies certain to be made when this pox upon our house is no more. But until that glorious return to normality has us resuming all the simple joys of life we take for granted, like going to the movies, I'll be retro-reviewing and thereby sharing with you the films that I've come to treasure over the years, most of which can probably be retrieved from one of the movie streaming services. It is my fondest hope that I've barely put a dent into this trove when they let the likes of me back into the Bijou.

Dave would wear a mask.
Kevin Kline's Dave Kovic is a temp agency owner whose brief gig as stand-in for crummy President Bill Mitchell becomes a fantasy come true when the real deal goes into a coma and Frank Langella's power-hungry chief of staff sees opportunity in continuing the ruse.
But the evil kingmaker's scheme to maintain control and ultimately catapult himself to the presidency spawns a proverbial fly in the ointment. Because, yep … Dave would totally wear a mask if public health recommended it, meaning he's civic-minded, concerned for his fellow humans, unselfish, and well, an all-around good guy. In short, while he's just the sort of fellow you'd want to have your back, that's not what the political puppeteer wants in his dead ringer.
You see, affable Dave Kovic, figuring he might as well make proper use of his moment in the White House, launches a one-man reformation. No insult or injury to America remains safe, whether it's the perpetual disregard of racial discrimination, the shameful neglect of the needy or the rabid desire to skew the tax tables in favor of those who least need it. All of which is certainly noble, but hardly good policy if you want to get re-elected in a land where specious gerrymandering has made the concept of an even playing field a dirty word. What? Play fair?
Are you nuts?
The beauty of the parable at the heart of director Ivan Reitman's "Dave" (1993) is that the title character isn't beholden to the moneyed scourge that features itself the ruling class. He is the sorcerer's apprentice but with a conscience and a moral purpose, free to right the wrongs that have preceded his ascendancy. Oh, that we might elect such a President. But then, that's going to be up to you.
Still, beware. While not a very nice testament to our species, there would still be detractors who, knowing they can make a buck catering to the ignorance of the prejudiced and self-indulgent, would peddle a divisive gospel of rationalization to their antisocial, gimme, gimme audience.
That there are that many people in the United States who are regularly dropped on their heads in babyhood is scary.
Point of disclosure: It behooves to admit my own specific area of selfishness, which may or may not give me insight into the greedy aberrance that deters our civilization from becoming that proverbial city upon a hill. When company is over and it's decided to order Chinese food, my wife, Joanne, alerts our guests — so that they may better decide their choices — that "Michael Doesn't Share." It's true. I want my General Tso's all to myself and couldn't care less about anyone's stupid shrimp in lobster sauce.
Besides, I'm paying. And, should this become an issue just outside the pearly gates, I have a little speech ready about how it's not like I've spent the last four years trying to steal health care from my fellow Americans or stomping on democratic ideals.
Not that I can claim a smidgen of the altruism that makes Dave the good soul that he is. Still, sadly, until the next major social reawakening, which oft follows global cataclysms like floods and pandemics, way too many people don't see the good in giving a sucker an even break, let alone embracing the wisdom in JFK.'s "Ask not what your country can do for you—-ask what you can do for your country." Indeed, Dave would wear a mask in respect for his citizenry if he were in charge today, hence shortening the length of the Pandemic and saving uncountable lives.
But then, "Dave" is imaginary, a standout example in the wishful genre of literary conjecture that, since time immemorial, has evidenced dire truths about the history of leadership. Just as it is sad that the lovelorn must find solace in steamy novels, it is harsh reality that the continuously misgoverned must too often turn to figments of Presidential epiphanies for vicarious easing of their ignored grievances.
Psst. Call me a delusional fool. Perhaps I've watched too many movies. But I initially hoped some great oracle of inspiration, like that which transformed Walter Huston's corrupt President Hammond in "Gabriel Over the White House" (1933), might stir Trump to doing good for someone besides himself and a coterie of wealthy supporters. But nah. Leopards don't change their spots, which is one of the reasons we so cherish the movies, where grace, compassion and improvement of character are just around the corner.
And let's not forget that component injected to please our romantic instinct, supplied here with enticing aplomb by Sigourney Weaver as the first lady who, having long abandoned any marital intimacy, begins to wonder what's up with the previously dishonest Philanderer in Chief. He's literally not the same man. You don't have to be well steeped in the processes of heartstring-plucking fiction to know where that's going. Suffice it to note, pretty Ellen Mitchell is turned on by the moral rectitude of someone who would wear a mask.
"Dave," rated PG-13, is a Warner Bros. release directed by Ivan Reitman and stars Kevin Kline, Sigourney Weaver and Frank Langella. Running time: 110 minutes


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