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Barry Levinson
Robin Williams, Christopher Walken, Laura Linney, Lewis Black, Jeff Goldblum, David Alpay, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Chris Matthews, James Carville
Writing Credits:
Barry Levinson

What if a Comedian Ran for President? ... What if He Won?

Many talk show hosts harbor lofty ambitions, but few would go to the extremes that Tom Dobbs (Robin Williams) does. After entering the race for president as a joke, he proves to be more popular than anyone could have imagined. Soon, the late-night gabber is leader of the free world.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$12.299 million on 2515 screens.
Domestic Gross
$37.442 million.

Rated PG-13

Widescreen 2.35:1/16X9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 115 min.
Price: $29.98
Release Date: 2/20/2007

• “Commander in Chief: Making of Man of the Year” Featurette
• “Robin Williams: ‘Stand Up’ Guy” Featurette
• Previews


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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Man Of The Year (2006)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 19, 2007)

Back in 1987, Barry Levinson and Robin Williams teamed for a big critical and popular hit with Good Morning Vietnam. However, subsequent reunion flicks proved less successful. 1992’s Toys was a total disaster in all ways, and 2006’s Man of the Year didn’t do much better, as critics lambasted it and audiences avoided it. And you know what? Both groups were correct, as the film deserved its fate.

In Year, Williams plays Tom Dobbs, the host of a political talk show on cable. When an audience member suggests he should run for president, a popular torrent of interest unleashes, and Dobbs soon decides to take on the campaign. In the meantime, Delacroy Systems gets the contract for a massive new automated voting terminal. Employee Eleanor Green (Laura Linney) discovers a serious glitch, but rather than risk the loss of stock prices, CEO James Hemmings (Rick Roberts) ignores the problem.

Back on the campaign, Dobbs runs a serious race, a fact that frustrates his manager Jack Menken (Christopher Walken) since he thinks Dobbs needs to use his signature comedy to get across his points. After much pestering, Dobbs finally relents during a nationally televised debate. He scores many points there so he decides to let himself go back to his natural wild comedic style.

From there he gets to the heart of the voters, and against all predictions, Dobbs wins the election. However, Eleanor knows the truth: he took the presidency due to computer error alone. She attempts to expose the truth and gets close to Dobbs. The movie follows their relationship along with Delacroy’s attempts to conceal what really happened.

When detractors rail against liberal Hollywood’s agenda, they have product like Year in mind. When detractors rail against Hollywood’s crummy attempts to entertain, they have product like Year in mind. Idiotic, insipid and ill-informed, the movie does virtually nothing right.

Let’s start with the absurdly scattered focus. Parts of Year progress like a standard Williams comedy. He regales us with his usual shtick and attempts to make points about the political system. None of these actually amuse, but the movie follows that pattern.

Then we get the Eleanor side of things. These parts attempt to be timely as they take on the hot button issue of paperless voting systems. Rather than seem current, however, Levinson directs these sections in such a way that they feel about 30 years behind the curve. The Eleanor segments come across like part of some forgotten post-Watergate paranoid fantasy.

Mix these two strains together, throw in a little Frank Capra, and what do you get? A complete failure of a movie, that’s what. Honestly, Year often comes across like an improvised experiment more than a real film. Levinson sticks the different elements together in such an awkward way that the elements never coalesce. Many extraneous scenes pop up along the way and the movie needs many minutes before it remotely coheres into anything that remotely resembles an actual story.

Even then, it can’t quite follow through on its promises. Much of the film acts as an excuse for Williams’ patented shtick, even though his gags have rarely been so tepid and unfunny. Williams seems stuck on cruise control here, almost like they replaced him with an audio animatronic Williams from Disney. He displays no life as he sleepwalks through the role.

Like Levinson’s dreadful Avalon, this flick subsumes its attempts at entertainment in service of its obvious themes. It becomes a liberal political screed as it assails corporations, politicians, and a slew of other easy targets. The filmmakers bring nothing fresh to the table, and never do they attempt any ideas or solutions. They just make simplistic attacks on predictable groups without intelligence or wit.

Smug and condescending, Man of the Year pats itself on the back for its daring and topicality. If it managed to offer something 1/10th as clever as it wants to be, that’d be good. Since it’s moronic and pointless, it fails.

The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus D

Man of the Year appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Despite a few rough spots, the transfer ended up as a good one.

At the film’s start, I noticed a little softness from shots on the set of Dobbs’ TV show. However, those cleaned up pretty quickly. The rest of the movie appeared accurate and concise, as soft sections rarely interfered. The movie showed no signs of jagged edges or moiré effects, and edge enhancement remained minimal. I also detected no source flaws.

The palette of Year jumped around a bit. Most of the movie went with a natural tone, though the thriller elements tended to be icier and more stylized. The transfer pulled off all of these colors well, as it rendered them in a concise fashion. Blacks worked as deep and dense, while shadows were clear and smooth. This turned into a satisfying visual experience.

Only a lack of ambition left the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Man of the Year with a “B-“, as audio quality worked well. Speech seemed natural and precise, with no issues on display. Music was vivid and rich, and effects came across in a similar way. The mix rarely blasted loud elements, but the pieces were accurate and concise.

As for the soundfield, the forward elements dominated. Music showed good stereo imaging and effects spread around the room to create a nice sense of atmosphere. The surrounds added little to the package, as they only boasted a couple of slightly active sequences. Given the movie’s subject matter, that was fine.

A couple of extras round out the package. Commander in Chief: Making of Man of the Year goes for 12 minutes and 50 seconds. It mixes movie clips, behind the scenes bits and comments from director Barry Levinson and actors Laura Linney, Christopher Walken, Robin Williams, Lewis Black, and Jeff Goldblum. The show looks at Levinson’s work on the set, cast and performances, the film’s political elements and its dual storylines, and related challenges.

Expect a lot of back patting from this tedious featurette. We get a lot of praise for Levinson and not much real information. The shots from the set add some moderately interesting elements, but it doesn’t tell us anything useful to go along with the visuals.

Next we get Robin Williams: “Stand Up” Guy. This nine-minute and 13-second featurette offers notes from Williams, Levinson, Walken, Black, and Linney. The program looks at Williams’ comedic methods. I like Levinson’s notes about Williams’ controlled improvisation, and some alternate takes from Saturday Night Live with Tina Fey are fun. Unfortunately, too much of the show just offers praise for Williams and movie snippets, so we don’t get much good stuff here.

The DVD opens with ads for Monk, the first season of Saturday Night Live, The Office, HD-DVD, and Let’s Go to Prison. No trailer for Man of the Year appears on the disc.

Filmmakers with a sense of subtlety might make something out of the story behind Man of the Year. Since the flick comes from Barry Levinson and Robin Williams – the kings of obvious sentiment – the result ends up as a predictably arrogant and insufferable mess. The DVD provides good picture and decent audio but skimps on extras. Skip this mess.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.3 Stars Number of Votes: 10
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