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Universal Studios Home Video presents
Man of the Year (2006)

"Politicians are a lot like diapers. They should be changed frequently, and for the same reasons."
- Tom Dobbs (Robin Williams)

Review By: Chuck Aliaga   
Published: March 20, 2007

Stars: Robin Williams
Other Stars: Christopher Walken, Laura Linney, Jeff Goldblum, Lewis Black
Director: Barry Levinson

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for (language including some crude sexual references, drug related material, and brief violence)
Run Time: 01h:54m:53s
Release Date: February 20, 2007
UPC: 025193232625
Genre: comedy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
C- DA-C+ C-

DVD Review

Robin Williams' career is an enigma. He was a can't-miss comic over a decade ago, leaving 'em rolling in the aisles in movie theaters, comedy clubs, and on television. These days, he's most effective in small, edgy, independent films, delving deep into dramatic roles, often remarkable in films like One Hour Photo and The Night Listener. Barry Levinson's Man of the Year, a comedic misstep, is far from Williams' fault.

Tom Dobbs (Williams) is a talk show host who agrees to an audience member's out-of-the-blue suggestion that he run for President of the United States. While no one takes him seriously at first, Dobbs shocks the world and wins the election, helped by long-time manager Jack Menken (Christopher Walken) and head writer Eddie Langston (Lewis Black). Suspicions about an unfair vote tally are raised by Eleanor Green (Laura Linney), an employee of Delacroy Systems. This company was responsible for creating a new voting terminal; a project that was the brain child of Alan Stewart (Jeff Goldblum). Eleanor pursues Tom to inform him of this possible fraud, and the President-elect must soon decide whether she's crazy or looking out for his best interests.

What starts off as a straight-up comedy takes many uncomfortably dark twists and turns that seem completely out of place. A tighter focus on comedy might have resulted in another excellent Robin Williams laugh fest. He's sharp as a tack in the early sequences on his talk show, and part of the Tom Dobbs guest spot on Saturday Night Live are genius, but even that segment becomes serious. These dramatic shifts are just misplaced, and none really work. When it dips into the inevitable, completely predictable romantic elements, we're left with nothing to do but cringe. The ending is just as telegraphed, and equally unsatisfying.

The deception that began with the movie's ad campaign continues during the opening titles, with a collection of Williams' shtick. A few minutes in, the wheels fall off, and we're suddenly in a hybrid of Conspiracy Theory and The American President minus any hint of charm or thrills. There's no comfort zone to allow any of the meandering plotlines to come together, as one minute the focus is on Dobbs' adjustment to his new life and the next it's Eleanor on the run from Delacroy cronies. Drama and suspense can work wonderfully in a comedy, but some semblance of order has to be established first.

At just under two hours, things go on and on, with the story plodding aimlessly along. Even one engaging individual is enough to keep us involved in a movie, but this is sorely lacking such a person. Williams has no problem carrying a film, yet this is a case where even wackiness and charm can't save his underwritten character. None of the cast seems to enjoy what they're doing, and these are pros like Walken, Linney, and Goldblum. Levinson wrote and directed this, so he shoulders most of the blame.

Rating for Style: C-
Rating for Substance: D

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: The 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation is generally sound. A slight bit of grain and dirt crop up, but the images are finely detailed and sharp throughout. Natural, well-rendered colors are a constant, along with deep blacks and consistent shadow levels, completing an overall pleasing transfer.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
English, Spanish, Frenchyes


Audio Transfer Review: A Dolby Digital 5.1 track suits the material fine, but won't give your speaker system a workout. Most of the sound stays up front, including crystal-clear dialogue. Some of the music travels to the rear speakers, occasionally, but directional effects and bass are virtually nonexistent.

Audio Transfer Grade: C+

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish, French with remote access
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Monk, Saturday Night Live: The Complete First Season, The Office, Let's Go to Prison
2 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Keep Case
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: The only extras are a pair of featurettes, the first of which is Commander In Chief: Making of Man of the Year, a 12-minute piece that is more of an interview collection than anything else. There is some on-set footage, but this is mostly the cast and crew reflecting upon working with Barry Levinson.

Robin Williams: "Stand Up" Guy is nine minutes of Williams and some of the cast and crew discussing the funny man's work ethic. Everything's positive, of course, but a few interesting anecdotes are told.

Extras Grade: C-

 

Final Comments

Anyone expecting an all-out comedy showcase for the manic Robin Williams won't find it here. While he's allowed to let loose a couple of times, Barry Levinson's movie is a mishmash of genres and clichés that never quite come together to create a fulfilling experience. Universal's disc is solid technically, but there are only a couple of featurettes serving as extras.

 


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