Man of the Year

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Entertainment: +2

Content: -2

FILM SYNOPSIS: Acerbic performer Tom Dobbs (Robin Williams) has made his career out of skewering politicians and speaking the mind of the exasperated nation on his talk show. After a flip comment, Dobbs ignites a grassroots movement that puts him on the ballot. Hot on the campaign trail, he debates elected drones and says exactly what frustrated voters have often thought. Nov. 2nd later, the muckraker winsonly to learn that a computer voting error gave him the victory. A hard-working employee of a new computer company that tallies the votes has discovered a glitch. She goes to the owner a few days before the election, but this is not information he wants released. If the public knew, the discovery would cause trouble for his company. So his minions destroy her reputation and even attempt to kill her before she can make the public aware. No one will believe her except maybe Tom Dobbs.

PREVIEW REVIEW: In an era when far too many people get their world perspective from the likes of Jon Stewart and Saturday Night Lives Tina Fey, the premise of a comedian being elected president is just right for satirical skewering. Alas, there is no Paddy Chayefsky (Hospital, Network) around to supply sardonic wit. Not even the talented Barry Levinson (Good Morning Vietnam, Tin Men, Wag the Dog) is up to comic criticism without injecting a mood-changing, violent, action-fueled mystery. Its as if the director wants to protect himself, fearful of straying too far from the 14-year-old-boy movie-going demographic we keep hearing about.

Though Laura Linney is a good actress and does a credible job, and though its not outside reason that a powerful corporation would destroy a threatening employee, the jolting executing of these scenes switches between brutality and far-fetched ridiculousness. First, the woman is set upon in her apartment and injected with drugs. We think shes dead, but see her the next day, unable to control her emotions and going-off in a coffee shop. The drugs make her seem as if she is having a nervous breakdown. When that doesnt scare her off, they run her down. In between those incidents, she makes her way into Tom Dobbss inner core group. Suddenly, shes going paint-ball hunting and spending Thanksgiving with him, waiting for the right moment to tell him hes not really the President-elect. Paint ball hunting! A newly elected President is in the woods, playing this rather bizarre game, with people in masks pointing guns at him. I guess the scene was meant to express his child-like, anti-political nature. Its just silly, not to mention implausible.

The gifted Robin Williams degenerates into burlesque rather than insightfully sending up the political community. Perhaps the studio feared that todays audiences were incapable of following insightful parody. Keep in mind, these people make so many movies geared to that 14-year-old boy movie-going demographic that when it comes to entertaining the rest of us, they find it difficult to stray too far from adolescent sensibilities. Therefore, we get Mr. Williams requisite amount of crude sexual humor and sudden outbursts as if hes doing stand-up in a San Francisco gay bar.

My main trouble with Hollywoods critical examination of social or political mores is that they spend all their efforts badmouthing the problems without actually offering any constructive alternatives. The satirist feels hes done his job by merely pointing out the folly. Okay, maybe thats so. But this film is too smug as it berates the political system. Too smug and too crude. Here Mr. Williams all too often resorts to sophomoric crude sexual humor. The result: you cant help but feel youre being preached to by Howard Stern.

At the time of Mama Cass Elliotts death, an urban legend sprang forth on comic stages throughout America suggesting that she died while choking on a sandwich. There were many crude jokes made at the corpulent singers expense. Years later, Karen Carpenter died of anorexic complications. She also became the brunt of standup comic humor. At one point in this film, Mr. Williams does a joke at both their expense. It rightfully brought groans from audience members. He often goes beyond bad taste.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: One flatulence joke and a couple of gags referring to masturbation. Every time Mr. Williams descends into one of his comic riffs, the gags quickly descend into sexual coarseness. He cant even jab politicians without referring to sex acts. Will Rogers this guy isnt.

Obscene Language: 13 S-words, 1 f-word.

Profanity: I caught no misuse of Gods name.

Violence: A woman is injected with drugs against her will. A car runs a woman down, nearly killing her.

Sex: No sexual acts, just a great many sexual comments.

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Laughs are generated throughout from sexual humor.

Drugs: Some drinking.

Other: A joke ridiculing intelligent design.`

Running Time: 115 minutes
Intended Audience: Older teens and adults

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