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1/25/08

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This is one of those movies, that looked so middle of the road, that I really had no interest in it. I enjoy Robin Williams for the most part, but this looked like his same old shtick warmed over. Barry Levinson is a decent director, but he hasn't done anything truly memorable in almost two decades. It looked like all the same jokes I've seen in other political comedies like Wag the Dog or The Daily Show. I really only bothered with it, because I try to see everything, it'd been sitting on our DVR for a few weeks, and I was in the mood for a comedy. Luckily it turned out better than I thought.


Not a whole lot better mind you, but it offered a few new jokes and some good political ideas, that made it worth watching. Plus the cast is top notch, it's hard not to get into something starring Williams, Christopher Walken, Laura Linney and a personal favorite Lewis Black. The filmmaking is your average Hollywood production, with everyone's hair and make-up perfect, the lighting colorful and bright; nothing to complain about, but nothing to take notice of either.


Williams plays Tom Dobbs, the host of a political comedy show; when an audience member suggests that he runs for president, the idea starts to build until he's actually doing it. Christopher Walken is Tom's manager, who isn't too pleased to be moving from the entertainment world to the political one. When Dobbs runs with a typical, boring political campaign, his writer Lewis Black takes offense. Both him and Walken want him to run as himself, a comedian. He's resistant to the idea, until the final debate, when he's so sick of the bullshit that the other candidates are spewing, that it sets him off and makes him tell the truth about the whole political process in a very funny and enlightening way, it's easily the best scene in the film.


I could have done without the subplot about Laura Linney, who works at a company that is running the first Presidential vote tallied solely by computers. When a computer glitch accidentally gives Dobbs the presidency, she's the only one who knows. When the guys running the computer company find out, they ruin her life, so she won't have any credibility when she tries to tell somebody. The whole story drags the film down, I never cared a bit about it. They could have come up with some other way for Linney and Williams to get involved with each other. And I would have liked to have seen the film play with Dobbs winning the election for real.


I can't complain too much about the film, it's too average to really care. I didn't think about Man of the Year once after it was over. I didn't feel like I wasted my time, but it didn't change a single idea in my head. It isn't challenging or truly interesting in any way. If you want a few laughs, from some recognizable actors, in a completely safe setting; this is your film.


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