Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Man of the Year (Wicked Little Critta)

I hate being the last to review a Movie of the Month.
Anyway, for me, Man of the Year was a pleasant surprise. Honestly, the previews made it look pretty dumb, and I assumed it was just an outlet for Robin Williams to demonstrate some good old-fashioned low humor. The only really intriguing piece was the politics of it all. Living in the U.S.A, where we're all in politics up to our ears whether we like it or not, the idea of catching a flick making fun of the political system seemed rather cathartic.
As I said, I thought that the movie was a pleasant surprise. What seemed like the entirety of the movie (from the previews) really only made up 1/3 to 1/2 of it. I was surprised when, in the first 10 minutes, Williams was already a presidential candidate, and doubly surprised to see that he was a serious one. Williams played Tom Dobbs, a comedian who suddenly realized an honest interest in being president of the United States. He took the middle ground, rallying support by telling people how sick we are of two-party politics. And we are! He cast aside the party identification to focus on issues like the environment and the economy, and also made the point that politicians spend way too much money on campaigning by getting huge companies to finance them, and then are obligated to support those companies when elected to office. Even just typing this review, I'm getting excited.
The humor in Man of the Year was smarter and more entertaining than I expected. Robin Williams, while still a pretty large presence, wasn't larger than the movie itself, which tends to happen with him. Williams delivers a convincing performance as a comedian who also takes politics seriously. But Christopher Walken is fantastic. He is Dobbs manager, Jack Menken, a guy that really cares for Dobbs while trying to maintain a tough exterior. To me, he was the glue that tried to hold this thing together. He continually reminds Dobbs of who he is while still supporting him. And his character brings humor when things get too serious, as well as seriousness when things get too silly.
Laura Linney had a strange role. I guess she acted well enough, but if Walken was this film's glue, she was the force trying to rip it apart. The entire subplot that she was involved in sabotaged the film's success. It added a surprising amount of drama and intrigue--drama and intrigue which seemed terribly misplaced. I won't even talk about the silly "computer glitch" bit. Go ahead and read Dr. Worm's review for more on that.
In any case, while watching Man of the Year was very enjoyable for me, the film as a whole was sloppy and pretty much pointless. If it had stayed more with the politics, it would have been much more effective. That part was easy enough to get behind, as well as thoroughly entertaining. My favorite scene was the presidential debate, in which Dobbs didn't tiptoe around the issues or try to make everything sound "politically correct." If actual debates were like that, I think we might see some interesting politics follow.
The ending of the movie tried to tie up all the loose ends and leave us with some good, heartfelt message about our country. Or something. I think. The message of the film was good yet ineffective: It upholds honesty, but leaves us with the idea that political change is too much to hope for. We're all revved up, ready to shoot off in a new, better direction and change American government and politics after listening to Dobbs' unorthodox yet exciting approach. And then, what does he tell us? That we should leave it to the politicians. Huh? Why?! I was just pulled out of the dung heap only to be dropped back in! Not a good way to treat your audience.

Rating: 5

Man of the Year definitely entertains, and successfully gives us some high-quality Robin Williams humor in a new and exciting context. But then it rendered itself useless by telling us it never belonged there. Objectively, I know that this doesn't nearly qualify as a "good" movie. But the laughs, political humor, and even at some points the election drama pulled me in and gave me a good time. I'm pretty sure that's worth a 5.


Particle Man said...

so you liked it, and Dr. Worm did not? the casual observer would expect it to be the other way around.

Wicked Little Critta said...

Yeah, well, the casual observer would have to also know Dr. Worm and I fairly well to think that. ;)
I think the main difference is that the very unrealistic plot definitely got under Dr. Worm's skin more than mine. Depending on the type of movie and my mood, sometimes I'm willing to let ridiculous things slide. In addition, I think that I enjoy Robin Williams more than he does. But he can correct me if I'm wrong.
Did you see it, Particle Man? If not, would you?

Dr. Worm said...

I think WLC is right that the utterly presposterous plot definitely got under my skin more than hers. But I think there was more to it than that. I think I also expected to laugh more than I did, I expected the movie to make a bigger, better statement than it did, and I expected it to be about what it pretended to be about.
I think expectations come into play here as well. I think I expected a decent movie coming in, and so was rather pissed to find a crappy one, while WLC expected something pretty crappy, and was pleased when the crappiness of the movie was less than the crappiness of her expectations.

Particle Man said...

i haven't, but after all this discourse, i'm curious. i'm afraid it will have to wait till DVD, however.