Sunday, January 11, 2009

Man Of The Year - Robin Williams, Lewis Black

Man Of The Year



In light of the up and coming inauguration of Barack Obama, not to mention the perpetual pistol-whipping over the head by the sensationalist psychos known as the media, I suppose that it is only natural that my mind has turned to the grand arena of incompetence that we call "politics". I started thinking about the political movies I have seen over the years. Given my general disdain of politicians in reality, I found myself pleasantly surprised that some of the best movies I have seen were about the leaders of the world. This posting is to be the first in a small series of movie reviews regarding politicians and leadership. So let's just go ahead and start with Man Of The Year.

Man Of The Year looked promising when I saw the previews for the theatrical release, but I was reluctant to go see it. Much as I love Robin Williams, and I positively worship at the alter of Lewis Black, I was still worried that the movie would be heavy handed in the whole political ethics department. “Political Ethics”…now THAT is an oxymoron. But, I digress.

Now that the movie is out on DVD, I took it upon myself to watch it, and did my best to keep my expectations in check. It was the damnedest thing. When I wasn’t looking, I found myself enjoying the movie.

The premise of this flick is simple. A Jon Stewart-esque comedian who does the fake news, runs for president as an independent candidate. He makes a good enough showing to be added the ticket, and whaddya know? He wins the presidency. The first presidential election where all votes were placed electronically on a computer system, and a comedian wins. Can you guess how that happened? That’s right…a computer glitch. Enter Laura Linney's character, who works for the software company that wrote the program. She discovered the glitch before election day and told her boss, who promptly had her drugged, causing her to flip out in the company cafeteria and it lands her in the hospital. This was the one portion of the movie where they jumped the shark…just a little bit…because let’s face it, something that big…people will kill over it…and would have killed her in a heartbeat.

Naturally, no one believes our heroine, except for the new President Elect played by Robin Williams. So, what is the right thing to do? As the President, he could make the changes that American’s have been asking for. He hasn’t been bought out by special interest groups, he is not tied down by party loyalty, and he genuinely wants to make things better. But the problem is ... he wasn’t elected. And he knows it.

First and foremost, he’s an American and a patriot. So, the question becomes, “Is it right to go ahead and be the leader of the free world and take a shot at making a real difference, or do you speak up because as an American, you don’t screw with the voting process, because then it would no longer be a government by the people, for the people?” Then, of course, there is always the little matter of having proof of the flub. It’s what happens when the government gets involved with big business.

Yes, this is a morality tale. It gently nudges you towards the ramifications of the actions of the people in power. Their hubris is infinite…and will be to their and our own detriment. This movie is worthy of note. It’s not too heavy handed and it encourages you to take a moment and truly look at the people in power, to speak out and be heard, and to do whatever needs to be done to make the government what it was always supposed to be, but has not been for a very long time…a government by the people, for the people. Forget about the “issues” like gay marriage and focus on the things that matter, like the education crisis in our country. Alright. I will get off of my soapbox now.

I give this movie 3 out of 5 stars, for its morality and humor, but it did drag a little in places. It’s watchable, and it points out that it would behoove our leaders to take note of what the people truly want. It would also behoove our citizens to take note of what our “leaders” are doing. This is an educational movie as well as entertaining, and I do think it should be shown in political science and philosophy classrooms all across the country. If nothing else, it is an excellent conversation starter.

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