So much for truth in advertising, as this film fails to be the comedy that it is billed as, but is instead a combination of Dave and The Net, where the worst of both films are brought together.
The philosophy of keeping it simple seems to have escaped writer/director Barry Levinson, who apparently felt that a comedic talk-show host being elected president was not enough fodder to fill 115 minutes, and thus felt the need to include a conspiracy that is as ridiculous in its conception as it is embarrassing in its execution.
Of course, the plot might have been better appreciated had it not been given away in the first fifteen minutes of the film. So the audience is left to laugh at the few moments of humor generated by Robin Williams, who seems restrained by the script and direction of the usually competent Levinson. Other than that, the most you will hear from the audience at this film is: “What were they thinking?”
Christopher Walken is his usual enjoyable self as Williams' manager, but the rest of the supporting cast borders on annoying. Laura Linney, in what would be the Sandra Bullock Net role, handles her assignment with the subtleness of a D-actress being chased by Jason in a Friday the 13th film. Perhaps that is why the release date was chosen?
The actors can only be saddled with so much responsibility here other than they should have impeached Levinson, as this failure resides primarily on his shoulders. He had Robin Williams playing a comedian/talk show host, in the mold of Bill Maher or Jon Stewart, who runs for and gets elected president. He had Christopher Walken playing the manager. How could that not be a hit?
How? Easy. Never let the story go where we all want it to, and where you are lead to believe it will by the commercials. Of course you certainly can’t blame the marketing department. No one would go see this convoluted mess if they tried to sell it any other way. This film is a huge disappointment, and exemplifies the often-heard statement: “They showed the best parts in the commercials.”
Recommendation: If you are expecting a comedy about an unlikely character being president, this is not it. Go rent Dave. If you are looking for a good collaboration of Levinson and Williams with a story that delivers, this is not it. Go rent Good Morning, Vietnam. If you are looking for a solid Levinson take on the political machine, this is not it. Go rent Wag the Dog.
SPOILER WARNING: The following run-on sentence contains key story points that you won’t figure out until 15 minutes into the film.
If you are looking for a film where Robin Williams appears lost, rarely gets to display his talent, and is trying to make the best of a script that has him playing president-elect Tom Dobbs, who meets Eleanor Green (Linney) under the most contrived circumstances, and tries to help her as she is being stalked by her former employers, who want to silence the fact that their advanced computer polling software was unable to count accurately, and thus fraudulently placed Dobbs in the presidency, then wait for this mess to come to television as the edited version may not be better, but it will be shorter.
Written by Hombre Divertido