Man of the Year

12 ratings (12 Epinions reviews)
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"Man of the Year" - Slick stand-up routines, lousy plot...

Apr 2, 2008 (Updated Apr 3, 2008)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Good comic moments by Williams, solid performance by Walken...

Cons:... most of the plot, really!

The Bottom Line: It's worth watching for Robin Williams' comic scenes, but not much else...


Man of the Year is an enjoyable satirical comedy that burdens itself with an unconvincing romantic element and a daft conspiracy plot. Still, it’s worth seeing for being able to watch Robin Williams and Christopher Walken back at somewhere approaching their best. Directed by Barry Levinson, it’s got good and bad points in fairly even measure.

With the presidential election campaign looming, current affairs comedian Tom Dobbs (Robin Williams) jokes that there is no much sleaze and bribery going on that he should run for office himself. His studio audience is enthusiastic about the idea and what started out as a joke becomes reality, though Dobbs himself has no real intention of going all the way. His Producer Jack Menken (Christopher Walken) becomes his Campaign Manager, and all seems to be going well – that is, until Dobb’s insistence on running a gag-free campaign begins to backfire. Eventually he has to revert to type, and finds his ratings soaring again.

Meanwhile with the first use of computerised voting about to be implemented, a Software Developer at the firm creating the package to be used in the elections finds a problem with it. Eleanor Green (Laura Linney) reveals her concerns to the management, who are of course not too concerned about that, but rather the millions of dollars they could lose if they admit the fault that could take weeks or months to rectify. Green also gains access to and very quickly and easily, and becomes the romantic interest to our presidential candidate. Everything involving her character, directly or indirectly, seems too far-fetched. Basically, her character was a mistake for this movie. Though I like Laura Linney as an actress, she had nothing much to work with here.

Otherwise the satirical jibes are pretty good and often funny, with Williams delivering his lines with some gusto. Another problem is though that every scene with him in feels like he’s doing a stand-up comedian routine – which obviously works when that’s what he’s meant to be doing – but feels a bit forced at other times, particularly when he’s talking to his campaign team. They all seem to be waiting around for him to say something funny all the time. At least Christopher Walken’s performance adds some gravitas to the proceedings and he also gets in a few decent jibes at his friend’s expense.

Towards the end the plot spirals into ridiculousness when Green’s life is in danger, and the software firm seem to suddenly have a whole network of assassins / special agents (although pretty useless ones of course). The whole concept of someone getting to power when they were only a candidate of 13 states of the US didn’t make sense to me either – even if all of these were won, aren’t there 37 more states to reckon with? The problem with the software seemed a bit unbelievable too.

This sort of film can be done in three main ways – either try to maintain enough credibility throughout to make you think that’s it’s something that just about could happen (such as in Dave or The American President), have this as a side issue in an otherwise (deliberately) ridiculous plot (think Brewster’s Millions), or just be so completely outlandish from the outset that no amount of further improbability harms the movie (something like King Ralph!). Unfortunately Man of the Season tries to follow the first plan with too many elements of the third to make it work.

Still, overall I have to admit that I did enjoy Man of the Year, mainly because the humour was good and Robin Williams / Christopher Walken were on good form. There was some good satire but again, this only came out in Williams’ monologues, whether on his show or in his campaign. The film is therefore worth seeing for those parts; but if you cut them out there’d be nothing to recommend this film.


Recommend this product? Yes


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