Written by Fumo Verde
I so wanted to see Man of the Year but never got the chance, and now that I have, I'm glad I didn't waste ten bucks on doing so. Robin Williams, Christopher Walken, Lewis Black, and Jeff Goldblum make up a cast of high-caliber talent led by director Barry Levinson. But what went wrong? Sure there was some jokes, some of which were politically funny, but what got lost here? Was the plot about a comedian becoming president via computer fraud too deep for the American public? I desperately wanted to like this movie but I kept getting let down.
Robin Williams gives a good performance along with Christopher Walken. Both men feed off of each other and their energy on the screen together is epic, along with Lewis Black cracking in. When these three men are together, there is some great laughter. This is what kept me going, though I couldn't understand why.
It hit me the second time I watched it. It had nothing to do with cast or direction or even the plot. It had to do with the way this movie was sold. We were waiting for the movie about Jon Stewart from The Daily Show becoming President with Bill Maher as his VP. What we ended up with was Man of the Year. The story falls far short from seeing Stewart rip through the political bullshitters, or Maher lambasting the talking heads of FOX News and the like. No, Man of the Year was a movie about a humorous political talk show host, Dobbs (Williams), who runs for president and leaves his smart-aleck ways back in the studio as he tries to really answer the issues.
To start off, there wasn't much build-up to why or how Dobbs became so idolized. We spend little time with him when he is on his show, and when we catch up with him on the campaign trail, he isn't making the crowds laugh. Although a third-party candidate, he amazingly had a chance to enter the debates. Right then you know this is Hollywood because the Republicans and Democrats would never let a third party in. It isn't until the debate where Dobbs gets a chance to let go and be funny, but like the engine on your old lawnmower it feels like its going to start, then nothing.
During the time we are waiting for Dobbs to go off about the stink of the political winds, we slowly learn that Delacory, the computer company who has given the country the best in electronic voting, has failed to report a glitch in the program. Eleanor Green (Laura Linney), who not only works for Delacory but also invented the system, uncovers it. When she brings it to the attention of her boss, she is dismissed. To cover their own butts in case Eleanor squeals to the press, she is labeled a drug addict and a loony. She decides to tell Dobbs as he starts to fall in love with her. As you can see we have deviated way off the path of "What if Jon Stewart became President?”
When it comes down to it, this movie didn't flop because everything sucked. Actually, nothing in the movie sucked at all. Like I said before, the cast was great, the jokes were funny, and they did get to stick it to the oil companies, kind of, but it wasn't what the audience was looking for. Kind of like the last elections, where most people voted with the thought of "let’s find a new strategy in our foreign policy" and what we ended up getting was more "stay the course."
Man of the Year is a nice movie, but the American public, and me in particular, were waiting for some hard-hitting comedy concerning the political system in this country and how the people in charge only care about the voters when it's time to vote. Too bad the film couldn't hit its mark.