Perhaps the greatest fault of Man of the Year comes not with the movie itself but with its marketing. From seeing posters and watching trailers for the film, I went in expecting a light comedy, something that gave Robin Williams an excuse to be president while using jokes to point out flaws in the American political system. That element is there, yes; but the movie is for the most part a decent-but-uninspired political thriller preaching against the dangers of corrupt corporations and electronic voting.
Tom Dobbs (Robin Williams) is a political talk-show host, something like Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert, who gives and jokes about current events and politics in front of a live audience. Before one show, though, a woman stands up and proposes that Dobbs should run for president. After a massive outpouring of support for this possibility, Dobbs declares his candidacy and makes a run for the Oval Office, and in a massive upset defeats the incumbent President Kellogg (Dave Nichols).
There is a problem, however: Congress has approved the use of electronic voting booths for the election, made by a corporation called Delacroy. One of their employees, Eleanor Greene (Laura Linney), discovers that there is a glitch in the system that has caused Dobbs’s victory – in essence, that he is not, in fact, the president. What follows is an awkward plot revolving around the beginnings of a romance between Dobbs and Greene while she is being hunted for by Delacroy, the top advisor for which (Jeff Goldblum) fears that she will reveal her knowledge of the error and ruin the corporation.
One can’t fault the cast for the film’s problems. Williams is both surprisingly funny and sympathetic as Dobbs, the comedian-turned-president, and Linney gets the job done, as always. Christopher Walken is as entertaining as ever in his supporting role as Dobb’s manager, Jeff Goldblum is satisfyingly villainous, and Lewis Black provides a few laughs as one of Dobbs’s writers. On the whole, the acting is strong but uninspired.
But the greatest flaw was the sense throughout the film that I was watching the wrong movie, or two movies at once: the comedy and the thriller. I liked the comedy, but the thriller was awkward and didn’t fit, and the two elements did not work together. The premise of the movie – that of a comedian becoming president – had enough material to make a successful comedy, and this made watching what was essentially a political thriller a frustrating experience. When you get to the bottom of it, Man of the Year isn’t a bad movie – but it shoulda been a comedy.
Leave A Comment