Nowadays, premium cable TV series are considered the height of the television medium. That wasn’t always the case. Back when I was a teenager most of these shows seemed to be just a bit of a step down. I’m not saying that they were, but that was the impression many had. These shows either weren’t good enough for the broadcast networks or they had boobies so they landed on HBO. One show that appealed to my dumb sense of humor, though, was Super Dave, which aired on Showtime. It centered on daredevil Super Dave Osborne (Bob Einstein) as he mounted a new stunt each week…usually with disastrous results. The show ran from 1987-91, but in 2000 the character showed up in his own movie…The Extreme Adventures of Super Dave.
The film begins with Super Dave mounting a big stunt in Las Vegas on New Year’s Eve. It essentially has to do with him being shot out of a cannon and then bouncing back and forth between two big trampolines. On hand, as always, is his team, including his assistant Donald (Don Lake) and his stunt planner Fuji (Art Irizawa). Of course, the stunt goes horribly wrong and Super Dave ends up in the hospital. Adding insult to injury, he learns that his manager has skipped the country with all his money.
Now, Super Dave is forced to sell off his assets to get by. This includes most of the items at his training compound/amusement park. His life starts to change though when he begins mentoring a young daredevil named DJ (Steve Van Wormer). He even lets him use the name Super Dave Jr. But DJ ends up betraying Super Dave by signing up with a crooked promoter (Dan Hedaya). Of course, the promoter has in mind to create huge event where the two daredevils square off against each other.
Now, if you’re at all familiar with the Super Dave character then you should realize going in that any movie about him is going to have a lot of dumb humor. In that department the film doesn’t disappoint. Call me what you will, but seeing all of the disastrous, bone-crushing stunts on Super Dave’s Showtime series each week struck me as funny. Adding Bob Einstein’s deadpan reactions to each disaster to it just made it work all the more. If you like those sort of jokes, there are plenty of them in this movie, and most of them made me laugh. Now then, the question remains: is crushing a dummy in a Super Dave costume 20 times enough to sustain a 90-minute film. Honestly, no. Much of the connective tissue of this film just doesn’t work all that well.
I do think the cast does an admirable job with what they have to work with. Einstein is fun as Super Dave, though the character really has no comedic depth. He’s a human punching bag, which is okay to an extent, but when going from 24-minute TV episode to feature film, we kinda need a bit more. Don Lake also has some funny moments as Dave’s best pal, but again, he’s a character better suited to an SNL skit than a feature film.
I did enjoy Gia Carides who plays Dave’s love interest, Sandy. She is the mother of a little boy with a medical condition which of course tugs right at Super Dave’s heartstrings….besides the fact that he thinks she’s hot. In the end, “Super” ends up coming out of retirement to pay for the kid’s operation. This element of the story seems a bit hokey on the surface, but it’s one of the more successful aspects in terms of parodying the Evel Knievel persona that they are going for with the whole Super Dave character.
As a fan of the TV series, it was fun to see Super Dave again. I laughed from time to time. Part of that was nostalgia factor, part of that was that I have a dumb sense of humor. Ultimately, though, The Extreme Adventures of Super Dave proved to me that certain characters and gags are better suited to the small screen.