After having just barely survived his latest death-defying stunt, accident-prone legendary stuntman Super Dave Osbourne (Bob Einstein) takes stock of his life and finally announces his retirement much to the disappointment of his adoring fans.
But without doing any hairbrained, suicidal stunts what will Super Dave do? He immediately faces financial headaches. His Super Dave Compond begins failing, his stunt school starts to empty, he has to start selling his assets, including his mime collection and suddenly everyone views him as a has-been!
Down in the dumps, betrayed by his young protege D.J., publicly trashed by slimy promoter Dan Hedaya and being the only hope of earning enough money for a heart operation for little Timmy, Super Dave has no choice but to suit up once again.
His ragtag team of dedicated followers, stunt coordinator Fuji (Art Irizawa), mechanic Donald (Don Lake) and upbeat peppy announcer Michael (Mike Walden) help ‘The Super One’ one last time for a world record shattering stunt to prove once and for all to the world Super Dave is the best stuntman ever!
So let’s do a little background on this character in case you’re not familiar with him.
Super Dave was created way back in 1972 by Einstein. He would make sporadic appearances in television sketch comedy shows and become a recurring guest on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and Late Night with David Letterman.
The ongoing joke was that Super Dave would be preparing for some outlandish stunt. There would be naive, optimistic and sarcastic banter between Super Dave, Fuji who designed the stunt and announcer Michael hyping the audience with a great deal of pomp and circumstance for what was sure to be an amazing feat performed by The Super One.
Einstein’s sincere, deadpan delivery I always enjoyed. He could be talking about the most ridiculous idea and always seem so blasé about it it just added to the humor of the whole thing. Then I always got an extra added kick when he would flash his patented Super Dave thumbs up to the audience. We knew by the end of this stunt Super Dave would rather flashing be us a different digit.
Of course the stunt would always completely goof up and leave Super Dave severely injured and always amazingly still alive! The bits would typically use a dummy that would take the fall, be crushed, get burned or be completely smushed while we would hear the monotone Einstein beg for help and be ignored by bystanders.
I first became aware of Super Dave on the 80’s comedy sketch show Bizarre when it aired on Showtime. Super Dave quickly became a goofy favorite character of mine. The ten minute sketches he appeared in were always good for some laughs. Soon Super Dave became popular enough to get his own television show. And surprisingly he even managed to get his own short-lived cartoon series.
Super Dave is pretty much a one-joke gag, but I found the funniest parts to the bits being the build-up to the stunt and the interplay between stuntman, stunt coordinator and reporter. Irizawa, Walden and Einstein would have some very funny interplay with each while trading snide remarks. Walden would really crack me up. Wearing ugly clothes he played the clichéd sports reporter so well saying such silly things it was miraculous he could do it with a straight face.
Most of the time I always suspected they were just winging it and making things up as they went. Most of the time this stuff was funnier than seeing the dummy of Super Dave get crushed, which we always knew would inevitably happen.
I hadn’t seen Super Dave in a long time. The most I had seen Einstein in recent years was in a recurring role on Curb Your Enthusiasm. So I was quite surprised to one day stumble onto a Super Dave movie that was done in 2000! I had never heard of this!
Apparently the movie cost $15 million. That’s a decent amount of money and quite an upgrade for a character whose punchlines were accomplished with a $30 dummy.
The movie was originally meant to come out in 1998, but I guess MGM were either somewhat unmoved by the results, lost enthusiasm for it or they just couldn’t find the perfect ideal time to release it. Or maybe they forgot about it completely. It eventually eeked its way out becoming a straight to DVD release two years later. I imagine not many ever saw it.
Upon learning that there was a Super Dave movie and looking back on the endurance of the character it seemed like a natural progression now that he would appear in some kind of movie at some point. Plus, when this was made we were in the throngs of Saturday Night Live-inspired movies. There was just a glut of movies based off characters from SNL whose five minute jokes and characters that were amusing in short television skits were stretched to ninety minutes on the big screen. Not surprisingly they usually resulted in some pretty awful movies.
The Extreme Adventures of Super Dave fits quite comfortably in their company. In other words – it’s pretty bad.
After Super Dave announces his retirement he heads back to his Super Dave Compound and the reality of him no longer being the greatest daredevil entertainer begins to hit. Fans stop caring about him and they gravitate towards the young protege Super Dave has been grooming D.J. (Steve Van Wormer) who is given the name ‘Super Dave Jr.’
But once given that valuable name Junior teams with Hedaya and they proceed to sully the name of the Super Dave image. They aren’t exactly the best role models for young fans and don’t reinforce the motto ‘don’t try this at home kids or else you might get hurt’. But they don’t care, heck they’re making money!
While Super Dave sulks about and his life falls apart the one good thing that happens is him meeting very cute Sandy (Gia Carides). She and her son Little Timmy (Carl Michael Lindner) still think Super Dave is the best. However, Sandy suddenly meeting Super Dave isn’t all just a happy coincidence.
The story itself is extremely thin. The bulk of the movie is Super Dave walking around being down in the dumps. This consists of a series of scenes built around the standard joke of him ending up getting hurt in some outlandish Wile E. Coyote-kind of way. It gets incredibly monotonous. The buildup to those gags are not clever, there’s nothing storywise to hold your attention around them and there’s very little entertaining offerings until that stuff happens. And when they do happen – they’re not funny anyway.
It becomes a slog of indiscriminate ‘failed stunt scenes’. Usually they revolve around Super Dave trying to impress young Timmy who thinks of him as his hero. Super Dave getting stung by a bee. Super Dave burning up in a house that’s on fire. Super Dave falling off a motorcycle. Super Dave getting an arrow in his neck.
It is exactly what you think the movie would be – a one joke premise badly stretched to ninety minutes. There are a few little chuckles here and there. There are few star cameos who play themselves. The best one being Ray Charles (a joke that was done in Super Dave’s tv series by the way).
Super Dave’s mime flock he keeps in an outdoor pen is amusing. It’s fun to see Fuji and Walden again and they have a few good lines and Einstein plays Super Dave exactly as he always has with deadpan seriousness, but it wears out really, really fast.
As I was watching this I thought perhaps a much better approach to making a Super Dave movie would have been to do some kind of goofy parody of Evel Knievel’s laughably awful 1977 film Viva Knievel!
In that unforgettable adventure Evel got embroiled in some asinine drug gangster story and had to go about using his stunt expertise in taking them down and saving the girl. It’s an incredibly bad movie, but ironically it’s much funnier than anything in The Extreme Adventures of Super Dave.
Perhaps modeling a big-screen Super Dave adventure off of that might have wielded more laughs. ‘Viva Super Dave!’ There would be more story to play with, more for the character to do and more reasons to create the ridiculous scenarios that would get Super Dave into dangerous predicaments, other than him just saying, “Ok, I’m going to do this dangerous stunt now”.
Instead The Extreme Adventures of Super Dave is a washout. It’s not funny and it’s not worth the time. You’re better left to watch one of the short Super Dave television bits Einstein made through the years. It’s no wonder I never heard of this movie. It’s lucky it ever even made it to DVD.
And the classic Viva Knievel! Plenty of laughs can be found in this 1977 treasure!