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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Man Of The Year

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Judy Thorburn

Man Of The Year

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ROBIN WILLIAMS IS POLITICALLY INCORRECT AS "MAN OF THE YEAR"

Flick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil

This isn’t the first time and it won’t be the last time prospective audiences have been misled about an upcoming movie based on coming attractions, or preview trailers they’ve seen in the theatres or on TV. From the few snippets we are given to peak interest in Man of the Year, you’d think the film is a Robin Williams comedy about a comedian who becomes U.S. President, followed by some funny shenanigans that take place while he is in office. It starts out on that road, with Robin letting loose with his outrageous, very funny shtick, but swiftly shifts gears and turns into a political thriller, a surprise that I wasn’t expecting.

Robin plays Tom Dobbs, an outspoken political humorist and host of his own nighttime talk show, a character modeled after Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart. During a warm-up session with his audience a woman gets up and suggests that maybe he should run for president. That’s all that’s needed to set the ball in motion. Within three hours the Internet is swamped with requests that Dobbs, as a needed change, enter the race and well, that’s exactly what he does, running as an independent candidate with lack of campaign money, but with a grassroots movement as support.

When election results come in showing Dobbs as the winner (despite supposedly being on the ballet in only 13 states) it comes as a shock to him, his chain-smoking manager, Jack Menken (Christopher Walken) and head writer Eddie Langston (Lewis Black). On the other hand, software analyst, Eleanor Green (always splendid, Laura Linney) who works for Delacroy, the company that developed the computerized voting system, knows that his win must have been the result of an error or glitch in the system that she noticed when she ran a test prior to the election. However, back at Delacroy, her boss James Hemmings (Rick Roberts) and his legal council Alan Stewart (Jeff Goldblum) don’t want that information to come out. So, to stop her from revealing the truth that would essentially ruin the company, the conniving Stewart comes up with a plan to discredit Eleanor, keep her silent at whatever cost, and create a cover-up.

Let me say that writer/director Barry Levinson happens to be one of my favorite filmmakers and he’s delved into the political arena before. His 1997 film, Wag The Dog about a fictional war created by the media, was on the mark and thought provoking. He returns to politics once again with Man of the Year. The script starts off with a good premise about a refreshing candidate with no special interests, who is straightforward, brutally speaking the truth with no holes barred, on subjects that voters can relate to. The best moments of the film are when Williams is “on”. But his rapid fire, cutting verbal attacks on the socio-political state of affairs is short lived. And Levinson plays it safe by not talking about important issues, like terrorism, that threatens the world. As a satire, funny and biting are the key words, which gets lost once the direction is changed. It would have been interesting to see how Dobbs, as a nontraditional politician would have made a difference or impact as the leader of the free world.

Unfortunately, Levinson gets serious, drops the comedy and gets sidetracked with a conspiracy scenario and an unlikely romance subplot, each of which is filled with implausibility.

The filmmaker was obviously inspired by the 2000 Presidential election that uncovered “possible” voting fraud, with its hanging chads and questionable election result. Levinson chose to concentrate on the conspiracy angle, and in doing so turns the film into a thriller that puts the whistleblower’s life at risk. I am sure, like me, audiences will be wondering why the film is being promoted as a “hilarious comedy”. If that’s the case, then Linney and her movie nemesis Goldblum appear to be in a different movie.

As far as a comedian putting his hat in the ring and being elected President, that may not be far fetched. We’ve already elected many from the entertainment industry (President Reagan, Governor Schwartzenegger to name just a few).

I still think Levinson is a great filmmaker even though this isn’t his best work. Yet, with all things considered, though uneven and flawed, I didn’t lose interest. No way is Man of the Year a landslide winner, but it makes a statement, and for that I still give it my vote.