Political Film Society - Man of the Year

PFS Film Review
Man of the Year


Man of the YearDirected by previous Political Film Society awardwinner Barry Levinson for Good Morning, Vietnam (1988), Man of the Year is about Tom Dobbs (played by Robin Williams), who as a talk-show host jokingly says that he might run for president and then has his bluff called by his audience. Campaigning as an independent at the last minute, he is not able to get on the ballot in every state, but he wins enough electoral votes for an upset victory over incumbent Democrat, President Kellogg (played by David Nichols), and Republican candidate Mills (played by David Ferry). Dobbs’s campaign speeches identify the control of American politics by special interests so quickly that filmviewers may wonder whether he is engaging in outrageous humor or he is issuing a serious indictment, a problem that also plagued Head of State (2003). In any case, he has no practical solutions to the various problems that he articulates. However, the film begins with a discovery by Eleanor (played by Laura Linney) that the voting machines in use have a programming error. After she presents her findings to her boss, she is drugged and hospitalized. When she leaves the hospital, she figures out the algorithm that threw the votes to Dobbs and decides to meet president-elect Dobbs, the only honest person in the United States who may believe her. After a brief flirtation, she tells Dobbs, who then has to confront a dilemma whether to remain as president-elect, following suggestions from his advisers, or to tell the country about the election fraud. But the same dilemma confronts leaders in the United States, where election irregularities are rampant. For attempting to bring some of the issues to the public, the Political Film Society has nominated Man of the Year as best film promoting democracy in 2006. MH

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