Sound like a movie you might want to see? You'll have to make it yourself, unfortunately, because Levinson has no interest whatsoever in what makes a guy like Tom Dobbs tick. Nor does he have anything trenchant or even amusing to say about imagemaking in politics. Instead, he seems to have set himself a truly bizarre personal challenge: Given that the election of a TV personality as POTUS has become frighteningly plausible, what can I do to make it seem ludicrously implausible? Man of the Year, you will be astonished to learn, isn't fundamentally a comedy at all, despite the ads that make it look like a wacky Robin Williams vehicle. Early scenes are relatively antic, but after Dobbs wins the election, the film makes an abrupt and truly laughable swerve into Silkwood territory, with Eleanor Green as truth-telling martyr. Delacroy's execs, who apparently trained with the CIA before breaking into the software industry (the shadiest is played by Jeff Goldblum), first attempt to discredit Green by injecting her with various drugs, then escalate to kidnapping and attempted murder. All because it was somehow impossible for them to quickly correct a glitch that—I am not making this up—ranked the candidates in alphabetical order by double letters, with Dobbs' BB trumping Democratic incumbent Kellogg's GG and Republican challenger Mills' LL.
On the other hand, turning Man of the Year into Run Eleanor Run, though inexplicable and misguided, does have at least one salutary effect: less Robin Williams. His Oscar notwithstanding, Williams has only two modes as an actor, manic and comatose. In every role, he's either riffing at warp speed or employing every resource he can muster to inhibit that instinct, and neither approach makes for a remotely credible comic-as-president; when he starts free-associating during a televised debate ("Now they want to ban same-sex marriage. Anyone who's been married knows it's always the same sex!"), you're more apt to cringe than cheer, even though some of the jokes are laugh-out-loud funny. Americans may be sick to death of career politicians and their pseudosincerity, but that doesn't mean we're looking for a caffeinated prankster. That Jon Stewart's dry, befuddled pragmatism—his similarity to us—is what makes him seem like an appealing alternative is just one of the many things that Levinson doesn't understand.