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* DAVE - After becoming a directorial star with flamboyant farces like "Ghostbusters" and "Twins," filmmaker Ivan Reitman tones down his act in this mild-mannered comedy based on a very old gag. The title character is a small-time enterpreneur who happens to look exactly like the President of the United States, and when the real chief executive is incapacitated, our hero is enlisted to steer the ship of states in appearance only, while the real strings are pulled by a villainous and power-hungry aide. Kevin

Kline gives a tremendously likable performance as the ersatz president, and Sigourney Weaver brings charm and elegance to the role of First Lady who's as ignorant of the switcheroo as the rest of the country. The pace is rather slow, however, and the mood is rather tame; many moviegoers may find the picturee too subdued for its own good. (Rated PG-13) * THE EXECUTION PROTOCOL - This carefully made documentary explores the techniques and procedures employed in carrying out capital punishment in the United States, with special attention to the lethal-injection method now used in many states. Although it is meant to be more humane than other methods, some critics feel it has the insidious result of making the death penalty more acceptable to the public than it might otherwise be. The issues raised by the film are fascinating and important. But it fails to a ddress some interesting matters that fall within its domain, such as the controversial views of execution expert Fred Leuchter, who discusses only his work on capitol-punishment technology. And when the filmmakers run out of informative footage, they fill the screen with repetitive images that do little to illuminate their subject. Directed by Stephen Trombley, who also wrote a book of the same title. (Not rated)

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