Man of the Year (2006)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Political Satire  |   Release Date - Oct 13, 2006 (USA)  |   Run Time - 115 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Review by Derek Armstrong

In Man of the Year, Robin Williams plays the host of a political comedy show, someone like Stephen Colbert, who gets swept into the presidential race as a stunt, then urged onward by his cult following -- in other words, something you could see actually happening to Stephen Colbert. But because Tom Dobbs is played by Robin Williams, the only person he really resembles is...Robin Williams. Like his usual locomotive without brakes, Williams tends to spew forth unintelligible streams of loosely connected comedy punctuated by "funny" voices, irrespective of whether anyone's actually listening by choice. But because the movie thinks he's so hilarious, it forces his audiences to repeatedly cackle like ninnies over his musty jokes. Man of the Year would have been almost tolerable as a bad satire of a political climate in which a comedian could actually get elected president. But it's also a bad thriller about voting machines plagued by tabulating glitches, complete with an evil corporation full of shady characters. Not only is this a wrong-headed narrative choice, but it's particularly unkind to Laura Linney, who's normally a talented actress. Here, she's never been worse, playing a whistle-blower with the thankless task of babbling nonsense about the voting glitch -- nonsense because the glitch itself makes no sense, something to do with repeated consonants in the candidates' names. The fact that she becomes an improbable love interest for Williams, with whom she has zero chemistry, just makes matters worse. But this film's failure is not ultimately the fault of either Williams or Linney. We have writer-director Barry Levinson to thank for that. At this stage in Levinson's career, Diner and Rain Man are distant memories, and mean-spirited turkeys like this are the norm. Man of the Year may just be the mess of the year.