Man Of The Year

Man Of The Year (2006)
Universal Home Video
Cast: Robin Williams, Christopher Walken, Laura Linney, Lewis Black
Extras: Video Diary, Featurette

I am not entirely sure what happened to Universal's high definition day-and-date commitment but for some reason Robin Williams' latest film "Man Of The Year" is currently available only on DVD. While this is a bit disappointing I was nonetheless eager to take a look at this political satire that is remarkably poignant and most importantly, funny.

In "Man Of The Year" Robin Williams plays late night talk show host Tom Dobbs who, upon the suggestion of a viewer, decides to run for President of the United States when millions of emails confirm that viewer's notion, giving him support. Fed up entirely with the state of affairs and the way politics are run, Dobbs challenges everything and breaks with conformity as he goes on the campaign trail without any outside funding by special interest groups. A complete outsider and independent runner-up, he is invited to the final presidential debate on TV and by breaking the rules he makes a marked impression on the American people by speaking his mind and accusing the status quo of corruption and shady deals.

While popular among certain demographics, it is nonetheless a staggering surprise when Dobbs actually wins the election and becomes the next President. He decides to run his office with respect for the people and to make changes necessary to help the people, changes that have long been overdue, when he meets Eleanor (Laura Linney), a software engineer who tells him that he actually won the election because of a computer glitch that her company is carefully covering up. What to do?

In many ways, "Man Of The Year" is way out there. Imagine Jay Leno being the next president… totally ridiculous… or is it? While the idea may appear far fetched at first, the truth is that we have had celebrities turn governors and presidents before, so there is some substance to the subject matter. The biggest flaw the film has is maybe the illusion that a late night show host would know more about what the people really need than politicians. My stance has long been that the fossilized politicians we allow to rule our lives and world are so removed from reality and everyday live that it is impossible for them to properly be there "for the people." The same is true for any sort of celebrity. Anyone who does not know how to do his own laundry, how to cook a basic meal, who has a body guard or chauffeur or can't operate a consumer electronic remote control is simply not fit to represent "the people." As such the idea that Dobbs could properly represent the masses is ridiculous despite the best of his intentions and movies like "All The King's Men" are much more realistic and captivating in that respect.

That aside however, the film works remarkably well in that it pillories everything that is bad about Washington. From politicians owing lobbying special interest groups to fake "Thank you's" and put-on family values or misguided political pretenses, all the way to the waste of money that could be put to better use serving the population, the film leaves a marked impression. There is nothing new in what Dobbs says, but it's barely been said as openly as he does it. As a result he strikes a chord with the people – and the viewer.

Universal delivers a great-looking DVD with this release that is free of defects or problems. The transfer is clean and doesn't show any signs of grain. Black levels are solid giving the image good visual depth and firmly rooting the image throughout. Color reproduction is also very good, and particularly some of the campaign trail effect shots as well as the indoor shots reveal the strength of this transfer with bold hues and shades while always remaining natural. No edge-enhancement is visible and the compression of the disc is without compression artifacts.

The audio on the disc complements the image nicely. It is a dynamic track that is never overly aggressive but makes good and frequent use of the surround channels to create a wider, more engaging sound field without being intrusive. Dialogues are balanced and always understandable and the film's music is nicely integrated for the right amount of punch when needed.

The contains two bonus features. The first one is a featurette of clips offering fans a look at Robin Williams' talent before the camera in various improvisational takes of scenes form the film. There is some hot and seriously funny stuff included here that is well worth watching, so tune in.

Also included is a video diary about the making of the film, which takes you behind-the-scenes of the production with some candid footage on the set as you see cast and crew at work.

To me "Man Of The Year" was a bull's eye hit. The film struck all the right chords with me while keeping the subject matter light and never overly moralizing. It would have been easy to raise a finger at the audience and say "Why are you so blind? Why do you allow politicians to run all over you?" but the impact would have been doubtful. Doing it with a wink, a laugh and a slight kick in the butt works much better and while I can see people not taking the issues in "Man Of The Year" serious at all – after all there are still people out there who believe Global Warming is a lie – but for the thinking part of the populace this film will make you ask yourself once again, "Yeah, why do we?"

"Man Of The Year" is the best political satire coming out of Hollywood for the longest time and this film is one you should definitely check out.