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Movie Review: Man of the Year

Man of the Year
Written and directed by Barry Levinson

Well, we’ve had Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and we’ve had Dave, and Bulworth, and A Distinguished Gentleman, and probably several other let’s-cut-the-bullshit movies about politics I’m missing. What exactly could Robin Williams and director Barry Levinson bring to the table? The answer is, fool everyone into thinking this is a tailor-made comedy vehicle for Williams and instead make it into a messy political quasi-thriller.

Tom Dobbs (Williams) is a late-night talk show host like Jon Stewart, and based on one semi-joking suggestion from an audience member, decides to run for the White House with the help of his producer Jack Menken (Christopher Walken) and his head writer Eddie Langston (Lewis Black). Dobbs starts off trying to be serious about the campaign, sounding like every other candidate out there until the debates, when he starts taking on the issues in a subversive manner.

In this year of the election, a software company has sold their election program to the masses in the era of hanging chads, easy to use for the public, one with a glitch discovered by Eleanor Green (Laura Linney). The glitch is ignored by the evil company, mostly represented by Alan Stewart (Jeff Goldblum), and it single-handedly wins the election for Dobbs. Green wants to tell the truth, but the company is throwing everything at her to discredit her and even threaten her life.

So, this comedy turns into a disconnected thriller; which is a shame because real issues concerning politics could have been skewered and brought to attention. Williams does get to put in his shots, and I got to laugh a couple of times, but it was drowned out by the strange change in tone almost scene to scene.

This movie robs itself of just being fun, which is exactly the advice Menkon and Langston give Dobbs after his dry pre-debate speeches. What the hell is this movie, seriously? A big, big misfire here, folks.

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