Man of the Year (2006 film)

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Man of the Year
Man of The Year (2006 film).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Barry Levinson
Produced by James G. Robinson
Written by Barry Levinson
Starring
Music by Graeme Revell
Cinematography Dick Pope
Edited by Blair Daily
Steven Weisberg
Production
company
Distributed by Universal Studios
Release date
  • October 13, 2006 (2006-10-13)
Running time
115 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $20 million[1]
Box office $41.2 million

Man of the Year is a 2006 American political satire film directed and written by Barry Levinson, produced by James G. Robinson, and starring Robin Williams. The film also features Christopher Walken, Laura Linney, Lewis Black, and Jeff Goldblum. In the film Williams portrays Tom Dobbs, the host of a comedy/political talk show, based loosely on the real-life persona of Jon Stewart. With an offhand remark, he prompts four million people to e-mail their support; then he decides to campaign for President. The film was released theatrically on October 13, 2006, and was filmed in Toronto and Hamilton, Ontario, and in parts of Washington, D.C.[2] Man of the Year received mostly negative reviews and earned $41.2 million on a $20 million budget.

Plot[edit]

Tom Dobbs is host of a satirical news program, where he taps into people's frustrations with the sharply divided, special interest-driven political climate. When an audience member suggests that he run for president, Dobbs laughs it off, but following an online groundswell of support, he announces on air that he will stand as a candidate. He gets on the ballot in 13 states and participates in one of the national debates with the Democratic incumbent, President Kellogg, and Republican candidate, Senator Mills.

Eleanor Green works at the Delacroy voting machine company. Delacroy has been selected to provide machines for the Presidential election, driving its stock price higher. Shortly before the elections, Eleanor notices that the voting system does not work correctly and alerts the head of the company, James Hemmings, via an e-mail that he deletes.

Dobbs approaches the campaign seriously, to the chagrin of his manager, Jack Menken, and his show's producer, Eddie Langston. The night of the presidential debates, fed up with the other candidates' posturing, Dobbs finally shifts back into comedian mode, keeping the audience laughing while also making serious points. He continues his showman persona on the campaign trail, thoroughly shaking up the political landscape. While he surges in the polls, he only reaches 17% compared to the 40% each for Kellogg and Mills.

On Election Day, early returns show Kellogg beating Mills everywhere, exactly as Eleanor predicted the voting system would report. When results from the 13 states with Dobbs on the ballot start being reported, he sweeps them all, taking enough electoral votes to be elected president. When Eleanor confronts Hemmings that the results confirm the Delacroy computer error, senior executive Stewart turns her aside. While Dobbs and his team move from shock to celebration, Eleanor is attacked in her home and given an injection. The next day she displays dramatically erratic behavior and is sent to the hospital, where tests reveal high levels of multiple illegal drugs. Her work mate, Danny, visits her in hospital and reveals he has been promoted, which she thinks is an effort to buy him off. He tries to convince her that she has a drug habit and that no one will believe her if she goes public, but she decides that Dobbs will believe her.

Eleanor travels to Washington and impersonates an FBI agent in order to talk with Dobbs. She explains that she was recently fired by Delecroy, but Dobbs is pulled away before she can explain about the election results. Dobbs tries to contact Eleanor by calling Delacroy's headquarters, with Hemmings telling him that she was fired due to a drug problem.

Eleanor figures out the flaw in Delacroy's system – no matter the actual results, the system declares the winner as the name with double letters, in alphabetical order, so that Do"bb"s beats Kello"gg", which beats Mi"ll"s. Eleanor calls Dobbs and he whisks her off to a Thanksgiving celebration with his friends. He is smitten by her, and tells her he already knows about her drug problem. She denies any drug problem, and finally tells him that the election result was wrong, then leaves. Dobbs wrestles with the issue, then calls and tells Eleanor that he will break the news the next day. She calls and tells Danny, who provides the information to Stewart, who preempts Dobbs' public announcement by announcing that Eleanor was caught attempting to throw the election for Dobbs, but that her efforts had no impact on the polls. Dobbs' team turns against Eleanor, but Dobbs doesn't. Eleanor sees the news and becomes increasingly concerned, a feeling that is soon justified when she sees Delacroy agents break into her motel room and take her computer.

Eleanor flees to the protection of a crowded mall, but is followed and apprehended by a Delacroy agent. She escapes and calls Dobbs from a pay phone, but another Delacroy agent drives his truck into the phone booth. Dobbs goes to the scene and talks with the injured Eleanor in her ambulance, where she convinces him with the logic about the double letters.

His friends tell him to just be president, since polls now show that 60% of the nation has decided that they want him. That night, invited onto the Weekend Update segment of Saturday Night Live, he announces to the public that the Delacroy vote system was flawed, that Eleanor told her bosses before the election but they covered it up and silenced her, and that he will not run in the new election that must now take place.

President Kellogg wins a second term. Dobbs returns to hosting his satirical news program, with Eleanor as his producer and later as his wife. The Delacroy executives are arrested. TIME magazine chooses Dobbs as Person of the Year.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Casting[edit]

Director Barry Levinson originally wanted Howard Stern for the starring role of Tom Dobbs, which would have been his second movie role after starring as himself in Private Parts. Scheduling conflicts with Stern's debut on Sirius radio prevented him from taking on the part.[3]

Release[edit]

Universal Studios released Man of the Year theatrically on October 13, 2006. It grossed $37.3 million in North America and $3.9 million in other territories for a total worldwide gross of $41.2 million.[4] Universal Studios Home Entertainment released it on DVD on February 20, 2007, where it grossed another $25.1 million in sales.[1]

Reception[edit]

Man of the Year received mostly negative reviews, with review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes giving it a rating of 21% based on reviews from 142 critics.[5] Most of the critics noted the abrupt change in tone from comedy to conspiracy film. Many critics rated the entire movie negatively, calling the early humor of the film uninspired and less biting than that of the real-life television comedians Dobbs was modeled after (such as Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert); others argued that the early political humor of the film was both funny and on-target, but argued that the change in tone to a conspiracy film damaged its effectiveness, and many criticized the love story aspect between Williams and Linney.

Stephanie Zacharek of Salon.com wrote, "It's a comedy, a political thriller, a love story: Barry Levinson's Man of the Year tries to be all things to all people and fails on every count – a little like the generic, ineffectual politicians it's pretending to excoriate".[6] James Berardinelli of ReelViews felt it "makes telling points and has a lot to say, but it loses its voice along with its consistency around the mid-way point".[7] Josh Larsen of the Sun Publications line of newspapers asked straight out, "What is it about Robin Williams that he often appears in these wild misfires, pictures that are so full of promise yet so disastrous in execution?"[8] Frank Lovece of Film Journal International placed the well-regarded Levinson's challenge and failure within a larger context: "If satire is what dies on a Saturday night, then political-satire movies are what die on Fridays. Maybe we're used to the TV topicality of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart or Real Time with Bill Maher, whereas movies are months in the making, turning their current events into history. Yet successful satire needn't be topical – witness Network, Election, Dr. Strangelove – because some verities are timeless. Since when, after all, hasn't there been a populist saying, 'Throw the rascals out'?"[9]

The film debuted at #3 at the box office its opening weekend, with a theatrical gross of $12,550,000.[10]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]