“Man of the Year”

man

By Jae-Ha Kim
Amazon.com
Theatrical release: October 13, 2006

A comedy with serious intentions, Man of the Year attempts to challenge the audience’s notions of what is and isn’t real when it comes to politics. Tom Dobbs (Robin Williams) is a popular political talk show host. As a lark, he runs for president and wins. The thing is, he’s not any more unqualified than the other candidates, so his victory doesn’t seem quite so outrageous.

But when it turns out that the computer ballot firm responsible for tallying all the votes may have had a glitch–and that a recount would negate his win–mayhem ensues and the film segues from comedy, to drama, and back to comedy (sort of) again.

Directed by Barry Levinson (Diner, Wag the Dog), the film doesn’t take advantage of Williams’ natural humor or charm. He at times appears to be chomping at the bit to unleash a comedic tirade or two, only to be held back by stiff lines. Williams only truly appears to be enjoying himself when trading lines with Laura Linney, who portrays the hapless do-gooder at the ballot firm who’s being set up to appear unreliable.

With some fine performances by a supporting cast that includes Jeff Goldblum, Lewis Black, and the inimitable Christopher Walken, Man of the Year occasionally hints at greatness. But at best, it’s a lukewarm comedy with a diluted message.

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