Mediocre approval ratings for ‘Man of the Year’
Gooooooood morning America! What, wrong Robin Williams movie you say?
Whatever. “Man of the Year” is about a funny man with a crooked grin making jokes about current affairs and politics. The butts of Williams’ jokes might be different than “Good Morning Vietnam,” but the delivery is all the same.
Williams plays Tom Dobbs, a comedian who finds himself running for president. A girl appears (Laura Linney). A scandal emerges. Yada, yada, yada, you get the picture. If not, go watch “Wag the Dog,” another political movie by director Barry Levinson.
I’m sure you’ve heard the highlights on the previews, politicians being compared to dirty diapers, inhaling, and sleeping with women. In doing so, you have heard the majority of the movie.
The beginning is hilarious as the Daily-Show-like comedian, Dobbs, delivers one political joke after another. He jumps into the candidate pool and makes a considerable splash at a presidential debate. Then all of the sudden the mood switches to the drama of a John Grisham book with Dobbs’ love interest, Eleanor Green (Linney), caught up in the middle.
As the comedian begins to morph into commander in chief, the feeling of the flick flips between comedy and drama faster than my mother flips between the news and the Weather Channel. It was downright distracting.
Director Barry Levison did not give Linney’s character much breathing room, but the seasoned actress nailed the role. She delivered the drama-ridden fair maiden, as well as the inspired, love-struck, female counterpart. Needless to say, she held her own on screen with the legendary presence of Williams and Christopher Walken. The only time I doubted her performance was when she was forced to take inspiration from Wheel of Fortune. Come on, don’t Vanna White and Pat Sajack ooze patriotism to you, too?
While Linney was on her game, Williams almost seemed like he was holding back.
Just like Dobbs, Williams didn’t seem committed to the cause. Even Christopher Walken, a frequent scene-stealer, seemed faint in comparison to his usual flame. While Walken’s smooth, drawn-out voice is unmistakable, his punch lines fell a little short. Like a free throw off the front of the rim when the game is tied in overtime.
Because Williams and Walken weren’t all that memorable, someone else had to be. Lewis Black, a real life political comedian, takes on the role of producer for Dobbs. He is quick, quirky and funny – nothing like he was a couple weeks ago on “Law and Order: SVU.” Apparently, as an actor, he has some depth.
Another supporting actor who is worth mentioning is Jeff Goldblum. I remember him most as the geek counterpoint to Will Smith’s tough guy in “Independence Day.” Anyway, he shows up as the fast talking lawyer for the bad guys. He manages to change Linney’s stalwart opinion about the voting company being the bad guys. Of course, who’s to say who the bad guy is in politics. Perhaps democracy is just about people thinking they have a choice and are in control.
I tell ya, the man has a point. I think. Anyway, one fact stands true. Wheel of Fortune holds the answer. VT
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