Movie Review: Man of the Year
Last night I checked out “Man of the Year” with Robin Williams, Lewis Black, Laura Linney, Jeff Goldblum, and Christopher Walken. After watching about half of the film I had to go look for the date of release because man, did this look like our last election cycle. Turns out that this was released in 2006 and boy did it kinda sum up many of the things that had happened before and what kind of did happen with the rise of the Obama campaign.
The story revolves around a comedy talk show host somewhat like John Stewart, being asked to run for president by an audience member. Tom Dobbs, the commentator considers it and decides to actually run as an independent because he feels, as the country does, that the same ol same ol politics as usual just wasn’t working. This was a complete mirror of where the nation was when this came out and with hindsight, we are now trying to see just how much “change” we really have gotten over a year into the presidents term.
Now, the story line here is the interesting part of the movie and not so much the usual good, but in this case repetitive acting on the part of Robin Williams as Tom Dobbs. Williams does his usual schtick in the film with bits of his comedy stand up routines on the campaign trail which has its funny moments, but it is the serious Robin Williams that always gets me when he is in a film. From the first film that I really thought he acted in “Moscow on the Hudson” on, he has managed to really pull out some very interesting, thoughtful, and honest portayals that eventually garnered him the Oscar in “Good Will Hunting”
In this film, he comes across as a man who honestly wants whats best for the country and not so much for himself. He is an honest man that thrusts himself into the crooked politics that is our system and brings a dose of reality to an election cycle besot with politics as usual and jaded operators therein. The story becomes even more unlikely in the reality way when he actually wins the election and becomes the president elect of the United States.
This is where the plot begins to vacillate between light and dark as Laura Linney’s character finds herself being drugged, smeared, and hunted by the company (a not so shadowy reflection of Diebold) that she had been working for that created the new electronic voting machines. She finds an anomaly and tries to tell the company chair before the election that the system is flawed. She is ignored as the CEO hopes she would just go away, but 3 weeks later the election ongoing shows the same telltale results and she knows that the election has been compromised by the glitch. She goes to the CEO and his lawyer to ask about this and in a scene that I had never expected out of Jeff Goldblum, is told (without his usual peripatetic speech patterns) in no uncertain terms to be quiet or very bad things will happen to her. He also launches into a diatribe about how the election really does not matter and so what, the people didn’t get the candidate they really wanted, like voting counts. Goldblum was downright evil and scary.. Very well acted in a small part!
The plot goes on and becomes somewhat darker from there with moments of levity. However, the end will have you feeling good about the possibilities within our governmental system “if” we were ever to have a Tom Dobbs run for president. If you want a feel good movie with some laughter and scary bit, check out this film. Then sit for a while afterwards and think about our system of governance, elections, and the veracity of both old school and electronic voting…