Man of the Year Barry Levinson

The time is certainly ripe for an exploration of bankrupt American politics and the influence of Jon Stewart and his ilk but don’t expect that discussion, or any other, in this self-defeating train wreck of a movie. Robin Williams stars as the anchor of a Daily Show-style comedy program who on a lark decides to run for president. Luckily for him (and unfortunately for any thinking person), he surprises everyone by winning; he’s the beneficiary of a computer-polling booth error that could be corrected if the software company actually gave a damn. But fearless employee Laura Linney is determined to tell the truth, if the company doesn’t stop her and Williams doesn’t fail to come clean. The film starts off shaky but promising, with the star’s old jokes counterbalanced with a vague screed about the degradation of political discourse but the filmmakers make sure that no real issues are discussed beyond the not-terribly-shattering concept that computer polling ought to be honest. In fact, it’s almost entertaining to watch the film contort itself into a political thriller without politics, with the two major parties coming out completely un-scrutinised while the movie makes up industrial legerdemain to justify its serious issue tone. It’s a jaw-dropping avoidance of anything controversial so wide-ranging that you’ll be amazed by both its brazenness and self-delusion. Any mildly informed person will find it completely useless; any vaguely media-savvy person will find it un-thrilling and unfunny. And the fact that the Daily Show’s no-bullshit ranter Lewis Black actually agreed to be a part of this just goes to show how movie logic can blind the most cynical of commentators. The only extras: two unctuous featurettes on the film proper and on Williams’ comic genius. (Universal)