Roger M. Wilcox's review of


(First posted to Bad Movie Night in 2001 or so.)

Okay, let's see a show of hands here ... how many of you remember a sweet little film from the 1930s called The Magnificent Fraud?

... None of you? All right, then, how many of you remember a remake of The Magnificent Fraud done in the 1980s called Moon Over Parador?

Aw, come on, you've GOTTA remember Moon Over Parador! It had Richard Dreyfuss and Jonathan Winters and Raul Julia, and even a cameo by Sammy Davis Jr., fer cryin' out loud! ... What do you mean, you were too young to remember? Geez, you kids these days probably don't even remember vinyl LPs or 8-track tapes or subscription broadcast TV. Now get outta my way, I gotta take my Geritol.

Anywho ... for those of you who DO remember ... Moon Over Parador was a cute little romantic comedy about a South American dictator who has a heart attack and dies. Naturally, a dead dictator would be way too much of a shock to the people of this little 3rd-world country, so the dead dictator's trusted advisors quickly snag a second-rate TV actor (Richard Dreyfuss) who was there doing a location shoot for some action/adventure pablum, and convince him to pretend to be the same dictator who just died. Hilarity ensues. Eventually, Dreyfuss, with the help of the ex-dictator's total babe of a girlfriend, sees all the dirty politics and oppression going on in the country he's "dictator" of, and starts using his public image to change the country for the better. Note that his public improvement plans have a slight liberal bent to them, with one implied "steal from the rich" policy being the most notorious example. Finally, after a year has gone by, he fakes his own death, ruins the life of the secret evil power behind the throne (Raul Julia), and lives happily ever after.

Why am I going on for so long describing the movie Moon Over Parador in a review about the movie Dave? Because they're the SAME FRIGGIN' MOVIE!! Gah! Same plot complications, same solutions, same romantic subplot, same evil power behind the throne, same liberal-slanted solutions to the nation's problems, same EVERYTHING!! Okay, technically, Dave does take place in the United States, while Moon Over Parador takes place in a non-existent South American country — but that was the ONLY DIFFERENCE I could find!!!

Moon Over Parador at least had the decency to say it was a remake of 1939's The Magnificent Fraud. Dave doesn't so much as pay homage to either of these films. It just rips them both off. Oh, and it also has a rather "interesting" view of U.S. fiscal policy. In one scene, "President" Dave has to remove 100 million dollars in spending from the Federal Budget in order to finance a $100 million orphanage program. The real Federal Government consistently spent hundreds of BILLIONS of dollars more each year than it received, intentionally, between 1970 and 1997, and has spent over a TRILLION dollars more than it received every year since 2009. But I guess they figured the average Romantic Comedy moviegoer is too unsophisticated to understand this "deficit spending" thing, so they pretended like the U.S. always balances its budget. Bleah.

And finally, it's heartening to know that all of the nation's problems can be solved with one Federally-run job placement program. Thank you, and good night.

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