After Ronald Regan and Arnold Schwarzenegger's political appointments, it's not too much of a stretch to imagine a comedian becoming President of the US. In Man Of The Year, Robin Williams plays Tom Dobbs, the talk show host who unexpectedly wins the election. But Eleanor Green (Laura Linney) discovers a glitch in the system while working for the company who made the new voting machines. Political comedy morphs into attempted thriller in this confused, fitfully entertaining film.
The film reunites Robin Williams with Good Morning Vietnam director Barry Levinson, but despite Williams' jocular character, the similarities end there. Man Of The Year is amusing in places, but it lacks a sense of direction: it's not clear whether Dobbs would make a good President or not, so we have little emotional investment in the outcome of Eleanor Green's investigations. In fact, Linney's character is by far the most interesting, a low-level whistle-blower in a corrupt company, who puts herself at risk through principle, yet is no saint. Linney is excellent, particularly in one scene in which her character is unknowingly drugged and stumbles around a cafeteria in a confused rage.
"RARELY DULL, BUT NEVER COMPELLING"
But as Green attempts to track down the President himself, any credibility is left behind. His security seems extraordinarily lax, for one, and an attempt at romance feels both contrived and cheap. It's rare that Linney chooses a bad film, and while this isn't terrible, it just doesn't live up to either its stars or its early promise. Man Of The Year is rarely dull, but it's never compelling and ultimately unconvincing.
Man Of The Year is out in the UK on 2nd November 2007.