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Movie Review

Man of the Year

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language including some crude sexual references, drug related material, and brief violence

Reviewed by: Susan Quirk
CONTRIBUTOR

Very Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Comedy
Length:
_____
Year of Release:
2006
USA Release:
October 13, 2006 (wide—2,500 theaters)
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Universal Pictures

Does character matter in political leaders? Answer

Voting—Do Christians have an obligation to vote? Answer

What part should morality play in politics? Answer

Should Christians seek political power or should we only focus on evangelism? Answer

A single man or woman can help change the world. Read about some who did with faith and God’s help…
Jesus Christ, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, and David

Featuring: Robin Williams, Christopher Walken, Laura Linney, Jeff Goldblum, Lewis Black
Director: Barry Levinson
Producer: Guy McElwaine, David Coatsworth, Robert N. Fried, James G. Robinson, David Robinson
Distributor: Universal Pictures

“What if a comedian ran for President? …What if he won?”

What would happen if you woke up the morning after election day only to discover a comedian had been elected President of the United States? Perhaps just politics as usual according to “Man of the Year.”

When comedian and talk show host Tom Dobbs (Robin Williams) accepts a dare from an audience member to run for President not even his best friend and acting agent (Christopher Walken) believes he will create more than a ripple of publicity for his television career. But Dobb’s “warts and all” strategy mixed with a “cut to the chase” understanding of issues creates a firestorm of support with a cynical and weary voting public. Dobbs even manages to gain enough percentage points to gain entrance to the prestigious presidential debate which he transforms into a standup comic routine with the message of eliminating the systemic fraud, favoritism and corruption within American politics.

What began as a joke for publicity turns slightly serious though, as even Dobbs himself begins to believe he is a legitimate candidate for President. These delusions are validated when Dobbs wins the presidency and is headed for the Oval Office. Ironically though, the first political deception Dobbs must deal with is evidence of the fraudulent nature of his own victory brought to him by a persecuted whistle blower Eleanor Green (Laura Linney).

The character of Tom Dobbs is highly compartmentalized. He is brutally honest (as evidenced by even his admittance to the time and location of his last gas passing), is a devoted friend (he spends the night of his election victory in the hospital by the side of his ill friend) and does the right thing in the end, even when it requires great sacrifice and humility. However, our “Man of the Year” uses extremely foul language, promotes promiscuity, porn, gay marriage, divorce, drug use, prostitution, and has no problem making jokes about bestiality, masturbation, Jews, and Christian world views. Additionally, much of the political bent of this movie insinuates that the person who yells the loudest and does the most interrupting is the most passionate political thinker.

The semi-documentary style of this movie was effective, and Robin Williams portrays the multifaceted character of Tom Dobbs in a charming manner. I did laugh a few times, enjoyed the surprisingly suspenseful conclusion and particularly the emphasis on personal integrity. One cannot find fault with the primary thesis of this movie which is that truth matters. However, truth and integrity must permeate all aspects of our lives. As much as we cheer on Tom Dobbs in his acknowledgment of truth regarding his candidacy, we cannot dismiss the lack of truth and rightness in his other behaviors. For example, Dobbs admits to utilizing the services of a prostitute, and the audience is expected to applaud his honesty. He does not apologize for the utter degradation that this act caused another human being or acknowledge how this behavior fuels an international sex trade and other abuses against females.

As a Christian, I am glad to see the pursuit of truth exemplified in a film, however, we must remember that any and all sin keeps us from knowing and serving God. We need to repent from all the sin in our lives, change our behavior, accept forgiveness and remember that Jesus is not Lord at all unless He is Lord of all.

Violence: Minor / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Heavy

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer Comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—I’ll be honest. When I first went to see this movie, I was expecting a comedy with many, many moments of Robin William humor, but I saw a well-played and serious subplot that I was not expecting. There is much good to be derived from this movie. Yes, Robin Williams's character, Tom Dobbs, has done some questionable things in his past, but who hasn’t? He is a sinner, the same as the rest of us, and because he was not shown to be a professing Christian, there is only so much we can expect from him morally and Biblically. However, there are many things about him that both Christians and non-Christians can learn from. He is a loyal friend (staying by his sick friend’s side on Election Night), and down-to-earth (he was prudent with his money and not soliciting from special interest groups on his campaign). He is also VERY honest (he is self-depreciating, humble, and freely admits his own faults and sins. How often can we say that about politicians these days?) He is truthful to his friends and to himself about how well he would actually do as President (I don’t think even he was expecting to win). And when the ultimate test, the moment of truth was shown to him, he didn’t let anyone (or God) down. Do even many of us Christians show his kind of integrity and courage? Ask yourself that when you see this movie.

And let’s not forget Eleanor Green (well-played by Laura Linney), possibly the most Christ-like character of all. She knew about (*Spoiler Alert*) the malfunction in her company’s voting software that had won Dobbs the election, but her greedy bosses wouldn’t help her or let her tell the truth. They had tried to drug her, discredit her, and even attempt to kill her, but she constantly stood up for what was right, and in the end, despite all her trials, was richly rewarded.

Standing up for truth and right is never easy, but, as it’s shown here, it’s always worth it. I agree, however, that this movie is not for children, because of some inappropriate humor and profanity, some scary results of a forced drug injection, and certain moments when Eleanor’s life is danger. But for older viewers, this is a worthwhile movie to see. It tells of corruption and greed, but it teaches us in the end that truth and good will win in the end. Just like it will be when Christ returns. Robin Williams fans, Christian or not, will not be disappointed.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4½
—Sawnya, age 29
Neutral
Neutral—While I didn’t like the sexual humor and the profanity, I thought this was a pretty interesting film. I didn’t find anything offensive at all, however, I would suggest that only people 13 and up view the film as the ratings suggest. Robin Williams is a wonderful actor and comedian, and it was nice to see him on the big screen again. However, I kind of expected him to be cracking jokes in every scene. It turns out the film has a mostly serious side to it, and it wasn’t as funny as I expected it to be. Still, Robin Williams steals every scene he’s in.
My Ratings: Average / 3
—Shannon H., age 25
Negative
Negative—A lot of truth about how the American politicians seem to think. Spin on everything. There is one good line in the movie, that “the difference between truth and fiction is that fiction has to be believable.” Not worth the price of admission though, and not worth the assault on the senses.
My Ratings: Offensive / 2
—Allan Stackhouse, age 58
Negative—I can’t believe I sat through the whole movie. I guess I was just waiting for it to get better, but it never did. The jokes were very offensive and sexual, and I cringed in my seat a lot. I’m sorry I went to see it, and I’m sorry I didn’t walk out after 10 minutes of that filth.
My Ratings: Very Offensive / 1½
—Dana Thurmond, age 21
Comments from young people
Negative—One of the worst comedies I have ever seen. When a person makes a comedy you try to make them laugh. When you don’t laugh, it is generally not a good comedy. It’s not an especially crude film, but it just stinks. Barry Levitson can make good movies like “Good Morning Vietnam.” Halfway through it tried to be like a cheap thriller. You don’t do that in a funny movie! Robin Williams is a comic genius, and he has proved this with his stand up comedy, “Mrs. Doubtfire” and GMV. But Levitson doesn’t give him any room to work. It’s a mess of a movie.

And, to make matters worse, almost all of the jokes are in the trailer. I don’t think the movie is offensive per se, but I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone. The only reason I watched it was because Robin Williams died. Just skip the film and watch “Mrs. Doubtfire” or “Good Will Hunting.”
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 1½
—Tyler Wegert, age 15 (USA)