MAN OF THE YEAR
THUMBS DOWN FILM REVIEW RATING!
Combining serious drama with adequate comedy is touchy at the best of times. LOOKING FOR COMEDY IN THE MUSLIM WORLD pulled it off thanks to a topical subject and a fantastic script; not to mention Albert Brooks’ excellent broodish character portrayal. But MAN OF THE YEAR can’t come close by comparison. It has a messy message folded in with forced jokes and a twisted love story that is completely unbelievable.
The premise initially seemed very promising. Put a Jon Stewart-like comedy news guy up for President of the United States and see what happens. This independent runner is Tom Dobbs (Robin Williams, RV), a successful TV personality who is pressured into running by his audience. Along with him comes his manager Jack (Christopher Walken, CLICK), and his writer Eddie (Lewis Black). Seeming to have very little chance at a successful run, Tom Dobbs amazingly wins the election.
But did he?
Eleanor Green (Laura Linney, THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE) is a computer whiz at the company who designed the new software for electronic voting at polling stations. She finds a glitch in the system that is quickly swept under the rug by the company’s owner and his dark attorney Alan (Jeff Goldblum, INDEPENDENCE DAY). Poised to lose billions of dollars if word of this gets out, the company’s evil men decided to discredit and/or kill Eleanor to make sure she never tells anyone. But Eleanor is able to get to President-elect Dobbs and finally spill the beans (this is where the unbelievable love story starts blossoming, too). Dobbs goes onto Saturday Night Live and explains everything to the world, thus removing himself as the newly elected President and ending the careers of those at the computer company ...oh, and saving Ms. Green’s life.
Does any of this sound funny?
The comedy is forcefully wedged into the story and is often awkward. Robin Williams blazes for a few moments during a debate but is quickly doused as the gravity of how he became President bears down on him.
The message of the film is interesting and debatable, too: that special interest owns presidential candidates. I’m sure there’s substantial truth in this, and if you wanted to make a movie about it you could. If you wanted to make a comedy about you could. But Man of the Year isn’t it.