Could the U.S. government be run more sanely and fairly by nonpoliticians? Dave seems to say so. In this perky comedy directed by Ivan Reitman, Dave (Kevin Kline) runs a small temporary employment agency and earns a few bucks on the side as a presidential impersonator. After two Secret Service agents see his act, he is invited to Washington, D.C., to serve as a double for President Mitchell. He relishes his small performance of walking and waving to people after a speech. However, when the Chief Executive has a heart attack and falls into a coma, Bob Alexander (Frank Langella), the White House Chief of Staff, and Alan Reed (Kevin Dunn), the Communications Director, convince Dave to continue in the role of stand-in President under their direction. Alexander, a former Senator, has plans to seize the office after falsely linking the Vice President with the S & L scandal.

Screenplay writer Gary Ross keeps the storyline appropriately light and buoyant. Kevin Kline is appealing as the idealistic and gentle protagonist who even calls in an accountant friend (Charles Grodin) when he needs to cut the federal budget. Dave is pleasantly surprised to learn that the First Lady (Sigourney Weaver) supports government programs for the unemployed and the homeless. Both of them hold the unconventional view that politics should be about taking care of those who need help.

In the upbeat finale, Dave finds a way to act upon his heartfelt beliefs. It brings to mind the hero in Frank Capra's Mr. Smith Goes to Washington who called for "plain, ordinary, everyday kindness, a little looking out for the other fella, loving thy neighbor." This film is a delightful social fable which celebrates the Good Samaritan idealism of an ordinary citizen who actually makes a difference in Washington.