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Man of the Year


Stars: Robin Williams, Laura Linney, Christopher Walken, Lewis Black, Jeff Goldblum, Rick Roberts, David Alpay, Faith Daniels, Dave Nichols

Director: Barry Levinson

This was filmed in 2006, and so predates Robin Williams' dismal recently released ‘comedy’ Licence to Wed. It’s also just as unfunny, apart from several (but not enough) smart one-liners which pepper an otherwise face-freezingly witless farrago which finds Williams playing a satirical television newscaster (think Jon Stewart, who gets a name check, but in a channel people actually watch) being urged to run for President by an enthusiastic audience member.

More than eight million emails later and encouraged by manager Walken and advisor Black, Williams decides to go for it and wins – but only because of a glitch in the new computerised voting system. And when computer expert Linney decides to blow the whistle on the crooked computer system manufacturers, the film turns uncomfortably and unconvincingly from satire to paranoid thriller and comes crashing to the ground…

I can only assume Levinson, doubling as writer and director, was hoping to make a Capra-esque fable for the 21st century. His swipes at the venality, vacuity and sheer unabashed gall of self-seeking politicians occasionally hits home: I particularly enjoyed Williams, when accused of more than just knowing Linney, replying “I did not have sex with that woman!” So no endorsement from the Clintons, then.

Unfortunately reasonably funny moments like that are few and far between. What laughs there are come from Williams doing his stand-up shtick. But there are not enough such highlights to compensate for the overall lack of entertainment. Williams does what Williams does which was more than enough for me, Linney, to her credit, acted bravely in the face of her material and Walken looked as though he wished he were somewhere else. Me too.

Alan Frank

USA 2006. UK Distributor: Paramount. Technicolor.
115 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 29 Oct 2007