By Fred Topel | Image property of Universal Pictures.
Man of the Year
Man of the Year is Robin Williams’ best comedy since RV. That lame Vacation rip-off actually had more laughs than this, and since this is a much funnier concept, it’s an even worse missed opportunity.
Movie Review: Man of the Year
Comic news show host Tom Dobbs (Williams) announces his candidacy for president at an audience member’s suggestion. He wins massive support through a no holds barred approach to debates and campaigning. But a techie (Laura Linney) who works at the company who makes computer voting machines, discovers a glitch that falsely attributes the winner. Instead of recalling the machines, the company sends a hit man to inject her with drugs to discredit her. Now on the run from a conspiratorial monopoly, she must tell the president-elect the truth.
Isn’t that already a much longer paragraph than this movie should need? Hey, it’s Robin Williams getting elected president. Why would you turn that movie into some espionage thriller, and if you wanted to make the thriller, who cares who the candidate is? But really, as awful as computerized voting may be, who would make a whole movie about it?
It seems like the filmmakers felt such a need to explain how their premise occurred, that they forgot the whole point of the premise. In satire or farce, explanations are not so important. Just say the whole country really did vote for Dobbs. That’s not the part of the premise anyone would question. Just show us how he’d run things, how he’d change things and how he’d face situations that maybe weren’t as simple as his monologues suggested.
Wag the Dog had problems but at least it was about what it was about. They didn’t have to say, “We’re not actually suggesting Hollywood helped the White House because yadda yadda yadda.” They posited that this was happening and milked the situation for every comic possibility. They didn’t know how to end it but they got there.
Man of the Year never even gets Dobbs to office. The majority of the movie is the period when he’s president-elect. Well, what’s the point of that movie? So much time is spent on paintball fields and dance parties. That’s not even funny. The premise that real points delivered with comedy are actually effective is totally lost after Act 1 because he never has to deliver on anything.
The conspiracy thriller isn’t even a good one. It’s utterly obvious and Linney’s character makes utterly stupid moves the whole time. Lady, if the company framed you as a druggie to keep you quiet, maybe you should stop calling your old buddy back at the office. And when the motel clerk tells you an “uncle” came looking for you, don’t check out your room. Just run.
The buildup of her trying to tell Dobbs about the glitch is utter sitcom territory. She keeps stumbling and stuttering until it’s too late to get the words out, or some random interruption stops her. That means the whole conflict of the movie is based on simply not stating the issue. They had all this material about politics and they fart around with diversions worse than the politicians they’re accusing.
They could make the point that a mistakenly elected president is actually better for the country than the chosen one. That’s a good point for a satire. But don’t get excited. They’re not going there. They’re really hung up on the voting machines. I wonder why that’s not in the TV spots?
When they actually allow Williams to rant on political issues, the movie is funny. The banter between him and his producers are full of wonderful references. Their Jag bit rivals any cutaway on Family Guy. Christopher Walken is the funniest thing in the movie just being straight.
Man of the Year may not be the worst movie of the year, as there are moments of comedy scattered at intervals, but it is definitely the year’s biggest missed opportunity.