Man of the Year is the third film that Robin Williams and director Barry Levinson have worked on together. Their first—made nearly 20 years ago—was Good Morning, Vietnam, one of the first and most successful showcases for Williams' brand of improvisational humor, and in its own way a thoughtful and intelligent study of the relationship between comedy and the grim seriousness of world events. Their second was the wacky, noisy, charming, alarming, and ultimately disappointing Toys. In terms of quality or entertainment value, their newest collaboration falls somewhere between the first two; it is not as potentially off-putting as Toys, but it also falls short of the political or dramatic resonance of their first joint effort.
The new film's premise is certainly timely enough. In a time when many people turn to variety shows and comedians like Jon Stewart and Bill Maher for their "news," and when celebrities like Arnold Schwarzenegger can launch successful political campaigns on talk shows hosted by the likes of Jay Leno, this film asks what might happen if one of these televised funnymen—in this case, Robin Williams, or at least a character played by him named Tom Dobbs—were to run for office himself.
What's more, the film is smart enough to recognize that Dobbs would probably not win, no matter how large his fan base is or how many names appeared on an Internet petition supporting his candidacy; think of televangelist Pat Robertson's brief run for the presidency in 1988, or of Snakes on a Plane, which somehow failed to turn months and months of grassroots online hype into actual ticket sales.
The thing is, while Dobbs does not, in fact, win a majority of the actual votes, he does "win" the election, due ...1
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Man of the Year
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