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"Man of the Year" is a very good political thriller/comedy that will suffer at the box office because of its misleading marketing campaign.
"Man of the Year" tells the story of Tom Dobbs (Robin Williams) a political comedian (like Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert) who has his own television show. On his show he talks about all sorts of things but his main focus are political issues which he is very opinionated about. One day on his show, a fan from the audience raises the idea that Dobbs should run for President of the United States. After that episode aired, millions flocked to the web to create various petitions and voice their opinions on why Dobbs would make a great candidate for the President for the United States. A few weeks later, Dobbs decides to run for President and low and behold wins the election. Everything seems to be going as planned until a woman by the name of Eleanor Green (Laura Linney) shows up and starts some controversy regarding his position. A funny yet serious political thriller ensues
Man anyone walking into this film expecting to see a brainless comedy will surely be disappointed. I always wonder how some people are film marketers when I see how misleading their marketing campaigns. "Man of the Year" is a great example of bad and misleading marketing, because everything from the poster, to the trailer, to the online advertisements makes this movie look and feel like a comedy. I would honestly have to say about 1/3 of the film is funny while the rest of it plays off as a political thriller that makes good arguments and allows its audience to think. I kind of wonder in this case if the marketing was done on purpose since this film addresses pretty serious issues in-between its comedy routine.
But enough about marketing, lets get down to the film itself.
I really liked "Man of the Year" even though I was expecting to see a comedy instead of a serious film. One of the many things I will give this film credit for is that the film does a decent job switching between comedy and drama even though at first it seems a little awkward. I really think that after you figure this out that the movie is going to be more of a political thriller than a comedy you get comfortable with it. Some may not because they are lead to believe that they are seeing a comedy and don't understand what this film is trying to say in the end but for those people they can blame the marketers for not advertising this film right.
"Man of the Year" talks about a lot of things and seems to have a very strong opinion. As Tom Dobbs speaks he is saying things that need to be said and isn't about candy coating them. I also think the whole political subplot, while most critics say hurt the film probably again because of the misleading marketing, was very good. The idea of computerize voting has been tossed around the last few years and with all the problems computers have the issue being addressed in this film could surely be realistic. Also the control big businesses have over voting also gets addressed.
As far as acting goes, I think everyone involved did a good job. Robin Williams had a chance to be funny yet serious at the same time by playing Tom Dobbs. Some say that Williams has overstayed his welcome as a comedian but I personally still think he is funny and he's a good serious actor as well. This is probably one of the few occasions though that we get to see him go back and forth from serious to funny and I think it works well. Also it's nice to see Lewis Black co-star in a decent film. Again I like Black when he appears on "The Daily Show" and does stand up however most of the films he has been in were awful. This was a good movie for him because I think his political views fit in with the story that director Barry Levinson was trying to convey. Laura Linney is a fine addition to the cast and proves once again that she is a very good actress and lastly Christopher Walken and Jeff Goldblum both do a very good job as always with this roles handed to them.
"Man of the Year" was written and directed by Barry Levinson, the man who has brought us such films as "Rain Man," "Good Morning Vietnam," and "Wag the Dog." Levinson does a fine job writing the film and directing it. Like I said I know a lot of critics didn't like the whole political thriller aspect of the film but I thought it fit in nicely. It was actually nice to watch a mainstream movie that allowed me to both think and laugh at the same time. Barry Levinson did a fine job with this film.
In the end, don't go into this film expecting to see the movie that the commercials are selling you. It does have laughs but at the same time it plays off more as a political drama. It's not as stupid or silly as the marketing campaign leads you to believe. I really liked the fact that this film that this film wasn't a typical Hollywood film. It tried to be a comedy and a serious drama at the same time and worked at least for me. I like the fact that the film didn't really tone down any of the issues it addressed nor did it have a typical Hollywood ending. I was trying to call the ending from the get go but surprisingly it didn't end the way I thought which made me happy. It's a movie that will make you laugh but then a few minutes later allow you to think and wonder what's going to happen next. I think its a good movie that will be hurt by its bad marketing.
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