Man of the Year
Rated PG-13; Directed by Barry Levinson; Starring Robin Williams, Laura Linney, Christopher Walken, Lewis Black
Man of the Year is a strange fish. Is it a satiric comedy or a suspense thriller? Writer and director Barry Levinson (Wag the Dog) tries to make both movies and we watch Robin Williams in one film and Laura Linney in another. It’s a disconcerting experience.
Tom Dobbs (Williams), host of a political comedy show, runs for president. What starts out as a joke becomes something serious to him even as his manager (Christopher Walken) urges him to go for the funny bone. Meanwhile, Eleanor Green (Laura Linney), a programmer for a voting software company discovers a major flaw in the software. The CEO of the company is not happy with Eleanor’s discovery. When Dobbs surprisingly wins the election Eleanor and Tom’s two paths cross.
This is a movie that disappoints in the way that the comedy ignores so many targets for satire and that the suspense is not suspenseful. Still, you’ve got a good cast who do a lot of good work. Robin Williams manages to make the funny moments enjoyable, along with Walken and Lewis Black. Linney is very believable as someone whose world is shattered when she tries to do the right thing.
Wag the Dog was a high point in satire and it had a nasty bite. Levinson goes for something softer here and the comedy loses focus. The movie tries to address problems with our political system, but the jokes about politicians have been heard before. The only thing new is the electronic voting fiasco.
Don’t expect a rip-snorting comedy or a nail-biting thriller. You’ll find a pleasantly humorous film with a good cast. Too bad that’s all it is.