I realized this weekend that the entire genre of a guileless everyman who stumbles into Washington by accident only to discover that it’s up to him to fix American politics was rendered almost instantaneously (and painfully) out of date last Tuesday. That’s not to say that Barack Obama is a guileless everyman. He is not. And it’s also not to say that he’s going to fix American politics. But that wide-eyed comedic trope of exposing the corruption of the American political system via an honest and forthright schmo no longer has the same poignancy. Man of the Year is one of those movies. Although what it now lacks in poignancy it has always made up for, I assume, in being terrible. I’m just going to go out on a limb and say that this movie was probably as horrible on November 3rd, 2008, as it is now. But now it’s out of touch and unrepresentative of any political mood, so if anything it’s even worse.


Man of the Year is about a Jon Stewart type political comedian (Robin Williams) who off-handedly makes a remark about running for president on his show only to get 4 million emails encouraging him to actually do it. He enters the race and really stirs things up with his exhausting one-liners and insufferable impersonations. Due to a computer error in the new computerized voting machines, he actually gets elected president. Laura Linney, a computerized voting machine programmer, discovers the error and so her evil boss and also Jeff Goldblum hire someone to break into her house and inject her with a syringe full of morphine, codeine, cocaine, Tylenol, detergent, and marijuana seeds. She gets fired from her job for being a drug addict. Then she goes to a party posing as an FBI agent and meets President Robin Williams and they fall in love. Then she tells him that he’s not actually the President. It’s up to him to decide whether to do the right thing, or to just be the President. Meanwhile, hit men try to kill Laura Linney. In the end, Robin Williams tells everyone that he’s not President during a Weekend Update sketch on Saturday Night Live, and everyone is like “oh man, this guy is the best,” and he goes back to being really famous but not President famous. And Laura Linney becomes a producer on his show.

Christopher Walken sums the whole thing up best:

Whoops, indeed.

The main problems with this movie, besides TOTAL IRRELEVANCE and ROBIN WILLIAMS, is that it’s all predicated on tremendous lies. For example, everyone in the movie thinks Robin Williams is HILARIOUS. America LOVES him. Except that he’s horrible and annoying and obnoxious and not funny at all. But even accepting the movie’s premise that he’s funny, which is sad when a comedy makes you willfully suspend your disbelief that the comedic hero is actually funny, it’s still impossible that someone would be funny to a majority of the population. During this past election, The Daily Show got its highest ratings in history, with 3.6 million viewers. That’s just over one percent of the population, which is great, and which is also nothing. The idea that the American people wouldn’t be up in arms over this, or demanding a careful examination of the voting machines that handed the election over to a third party candidate who was pulling 16 percent according to all known polling data is not only wrong, it’s insulting.

When Robin Williams is allowed into the presidential debate, he makes a mockery of the entire proceedings by stepping into the middle of the stage and doing a 10 minute RIFF that is painful in how unfunny it is. The idea is that he’s speaking truth to power, but Mike Gravel spoke truth to power during the democratic primaries and he seemed like an off-kilter old man in need of medication.

On his first day as president-elect, Robin Williams goes to congress dressed in a George Washington costume and everyone thinks it’s hilarious and amazing and so irreverent, except it’s rude and disgraceful and annoying. Robin Williams is the worst.

I also love the part where Laura Linney decides that the only way to get the truth out there about the computer error is to talk to the president elect, so she flies to Washington and goes to the president elect’s birthday party and walks up to his table and he asks her to dance. Because that’s how things work. It’s like when you travel back in time to murder Hitler and have no problem getting to him despite a global dominating war machine because of how good your intentions are.

I’ve decided to actually spare you from having to listen to any of Robin Williams’s extended rants. Just know that they are painful and unbearable. And know that you owe me one.

The whole movie was so obviously dreamed up by Barry Levinson when they read some trendsetter piece about how more young people get their news from The Onion than any other source, or whatever. That’s been thoroughly debunked, and even if it was true this movie STILL sucks, but what clearly has not been debunked, and if anything has been further bunked, is that Barry Levinson gets all of his ideas about how the world works from the Sunday Styles section. It’s a really big leap from thinking that a bunch of stoned college kids laughing at Colbert instead of doing their biochem homework in their dorm rooms constitutes a genuine desire on the part of a frustrated electorate for a man who’s not even competent at the thing he’s supposed to be good at, comedy, to the highest office in the country. Shut up, Barry Levinson. One thing I did realize in watching this movie, is that the aforementioned genre of a truthful, forthright schmo becoming president of the United States and fixing everything is probably the most powerful evidence the right wing has of Hollywood’s liberal bias, because it’s always someone who wants to make things better for human beings. You never really get a light political comedy about someone showing up to government and taking away human rights, legalizing all the automatic weapons, and enforcing a tax system that overburdens the poor. Although if they did, Robin Williams would still be the worst.

Next week: Dan in Real Life. As always, please leave your suggestions in the comments or in an email. And if you haven’t done so already, please consult the Official Rules.

Comments (65)
  1. I will continue to comment until you agree to do it. ACROSS THE UNIVERSE. As I have previously stated, if you do not add it to the hunt, then that means that Across the Universe is your girlfriend. Protecting your GF is the only conceivable reason why you would leave a movie that bad out of the hunt. So, in summation, ACROSS THE UNIVERSE.

  2. But I love Dan in Real Life. And yet Gabe is so sexy. Unrelated? MAYBE.

  3. Sean Robinson  |   Posted on Nov 10th, 2008 +2

    I sort of like the idea that Robin Williams, who is probably a horrible father, dreams of being Jon Stewart when he grows up. It is sort of uplifting that Robin Williams, who probably calls his agent every ten minutes with a new and horrible idea for a movie that the agent must carefully shoot down gracefully so as to not puncture the careful insulation of self-regard that keeps away self-awareness and thus self-destruction, lives unhappily and dreams of being a sort of relevant figure in pop-culture like Jon Stewart.

  4. brody  |   Posted on Nov 10th, 2008 +6

    “You never really get a light political comedy about someone showing up to government and taking away human rights, legalizing all the automatic weapons, and enforcing a tax system that overburdens the poor.”

    W.

    that was a comedy, right?

  5. What movie has Robin Williams been in that has been good? Seriously, I can’t think of one.

    Go back to doing blow and stand up, Robin, and all will be forgiven

    • AJ  |   Posted on Nov 10th, 2008 +4

      Aladdin! Who doesn’t like Aladdin?

      But this comment is in no way defending the horror machine that is Robin Williams or his career.

    • good will hunting.

      you’re welcome.

      oh, and fucking jumanji! and hook. and dead poets society.

    • The World According To Garp
      The Fisher King
      Awakenings
      Good Will Hunting

      This doesn’t really disprove your point, because 4 out of 88 credits is hardly a good track record, but Williams isn’t always bad, just usually.

    • jordan  |   Posted on Nov 11th, 2008 0

      hook and aladin are the only tolerable movies robin williams has been a part of. of course i might just think they are because i saw them both in elementary school.

    • The Adventures of Baron Munchhausen!

  6. Nick  |   Posted on Nov 10th, 2008 0

    Across the Universe!

  7. Joe H  |   Posted on Nov 10th, 2008 0

    This just about the only film I’ve ever walked out on. I’m a little disappointed you didn’t make a huge deal about the film jarringly swinging from COMEDY to DRAMA to THRILLER to ROMANCE without any sort of consideration for the previous scene’s tone. Really, I felt as if I zoned out for hours and woke up in another movie, but no, it was only a couple minutes and it was the same horrible movie.

    • Agreed! Michael Cera was the only good part of that movie. Jason Bateman would have been if his character didn’t end up being such a slimy creep.

  8. y  |   Posted on Nov 10th, 2008 -1

    A.I.,
    Across the Universe,
    I Heart Huckabees,
    The Sweetest Thing

  9. y  |   Posted on Nov 10th, 2008 +1

    and if you REALLY want to torture yourself: Marie Antoinette.

  10. y  |   Posted on Nov 10th, 2008 -1

    oh, and Cold Mountain!
    I just keep thinking of new ones.

    • you’re the worst… about half the time.

      • how am i the worst half the time?

        • man! i’m just kidding! no, but seriously – cold mountain was great.

          and the sweetest thing? what an AMAZING film. did you see that? i used the word film instead of movie to make it sound cooler.

          • I just thought that half the time was an overstatement. I’m only the worst like 2% of the time, however you figure that one out. And as for Cold Mountain, I don’t think I’m the only one who thinks it’s terrible, but if I am, sorry everybody!

  11. Chadams  |   Posted on Nov 10th, 2008 -4

    Take it from your best Worst Movie suggester, I Heart Huckabee’s, without a moment’s hesitation. That movie dared to question its viewers’ concept of what the limits of pompous bullshit are.

  12. Suggested this before, but...  |   Posted on Nov 10th, 2008 0

    JOHN TUCKER MUST DIE. I know it’s a stupid low budget teen movie but it has DAN FROM GOSSIP GIRL (whose real name I don’t know) and ASHANTI. Please trash this movie…please. Or love it….

  13. I really, really hope that covering one Robin Williams movie doesn’t forbid the inclusion of Bicentennial Man. It’s not like this at all – no “funny” Robin Williams shtick to sit through which makes it that much better (worse).

    • Bicentennial Man is highly unwatchable. Besides the fact that all movies trying to depict the future with robots are horrible, besides the fact that none of the actors could actually act, besides the fact that all of its “sentimental” or “touching” bits make me gag, the movie is over two hours long. If you can watch the entire movie in one sitting, whilst sober, you deserve some sort of award.

      Also, A.I. was way too long to be any good.

  14. Oh man, I LOVE this column Yes Robin Williams is box office poison and everything he does sucks, but how about digging into some movies starring that other example of Box Office Poison: Adam Sander Everything he does just absolutely SUCKS! Except “Punch Drunk Love,” which was kind of brilliant.

  15. Smurf Face  |   Posted on Nov 11th, 2008 0

    Not to be difficult, but that ending shot was crap. I know everyone here isn’t politically sympatico with me, but I would appreciate a little thoughtfulness in your broadsides. I don’t think it advances the discourse to paint the opposition as anti-human, and you seem too smart to be so simplistic.

    • Fair enough, Smurf Face. I definitely exaggerated for the sake of making a joke, because an uplifting comedy about a man who fixes Washington by instating horrible policies is funny. But you are right, it was about as thoughtful as a latte-drinking-welfare-tree-hugger joke. That being said, I do stand behind the political fact that the Republican party has been trading heavily in the hate-mongering practice of attaching anti-gay rights legislation to presidential ballots in an effort to bring out their base, which is fundamentally bigoted and wrong. It’s not a simplistic, unthoughtful broadside so much as it is just true. :(

      • Smurf Face  |   Posted on Nov 12th, 2008 0

        I am not a fan of anti gay marriage bills, but I don’t really think they are merely there to energize the base. Certainly, that is one of their side effects, but most of them were prompted in some way by judicial overreach. It would seem to be a shortsided and ineffectual policy to enact such initiatives just for voter turnout. First of all, they are single shot gambits, only to be used once. Second, as seen in California, they are supported by large majorities of minorities who traditionally support Democrats.

        If forced to simplify my position on the matter, I would say that I support gay marriage. Having said that, I fail to see how that portion of your post really applies to your original joke or my response to it. Unless the entirety of your simplification and dismissal of conservative policy was a reference to the gay marriage issue, it seems like you are changing the subject to win easy points; like you are focusing on a certain issue to rally your base around you. You are a clever bastard, Gabe.

        I do appreciate that you were exaggerating to make a joke. I didn’t really like the joke or some of its implications, but I do like most of your jokes and this site. I know you have no responsibility to provide a fair airing of all sides of various political issues. It’s just not that kind of site. Thank you for letting me gripe, and for responding with respect. That puts you higher in my eyes than most partisans on either side.

        • Jay  |   Posted on Nov 14th, 2008 0

          That’s fine that you’re a conservative and you have conservative values, but that’s not the same as the elected Republican party. They are the worst. Separate yourself from them.

  16. yr momz  |   Posted on Nov 11th, 2008 -1

    the worst movie ever will be the made for television two hour reunion movie-episode of gossip girl.

  17. You know, I watched a Robin Williams stand-up DVD with a coworker (I’m a good employee) and afterward thought “huh. That was actually kind of funny.” I didn’t think it was hilarious, mind you, but it was kind of funny. Why can’t his movies be like that?
    And a good movie with Robin Williams? Dead Poets Society, obvs. That movie is great. And Good Will Hunting.

  18. the sweetest thing. cameron diaz plays herself. need i say more?

  19. I think it’s that he has so much body hair that gives ME the jeepers creepers about him….it is not just the usual man hair he has but a full on gorilla suit hairy that he ‘enjoys’…hirsuite or what?! Sasquatch in a jump suit, his knuckles are like hand eyebrows, Big Foot came to dinner and coughed up enough of a fur ball to build Robin Williams anew…he should donate some to those Wayans brothers, their need is greater than his. His worse film? The one where he goes to heaven to battle Vincent Van Goch or something….melting paint is all I really remember and the other guy Goober Gooding Jnr…is that his name? He was in that movie too…..another duff actor…

  20. jerkmonivich  |   Posted on Nov 11th, 2008 0

    Good Will Hunting is so awesome. It takes place in a magical world where EVERYONE IS CONSTANTLY SPEAKING IN MONOLOGUES. Oh wait, me and my friends are just like that. And no one hardly ever thinks that is weird and unnatural? Well, at least Ben Affleck is convincing at being someone who is working class. Also, Robin Williams is the worst.

  21. Annie  |   Posted on Nov 11th, 2008 +1

    Dear Gabe,

    The Astronauts Wife.

    Love,
    Annie

  22. Evan  |   Posted on Nov 11th, 2008 +1

    Patch Adams, anyone?

    Seriously… Patch Adams.

    No, really.

    Patch Adams.

  23. YES. Across the Universe was terrible crap wrapped in marketable Beatles song gimmicks under the guise of MAKING A STATEMENT, but spray as much perfume as you want on it crap is still crap.

    It actually made me angry. Also it didn’t really have an ending, it just stopped.

    • across the universe was an interpretation of beatles songs…. to interpret them as pieces of mindless crap that can be sung by anyone and mean nothing.

      ugh what an atrocity.

  24. Your girlfriend is now under a near insurmountable attack. You can end it all Gabe. Just put the movie on the list.

    Sincerely,

    Thom

  25. Steve Sanders  |   Posted on Nov 11th, 2008 0

    Do Across The Universe!

    Then do Masters of the Universe!!!

    ….please

  26. Freddy McBubbles  |   Posted on Nov 11th, 2008 0

    Any Given Sunday. A guy gets his eye ripped out on the football field. End of story.

  27. Laura   |   Posted on Nov 11th, 2008 0

    What Dreams May Come, if you want to combine Cuba Gooding Jr., Robin Williams, and terribleness.

  28. I haven’t seen Bicentennial Man or Man of the Year, but Jakob the Liar is the worst Robin Williams movie I’ve seen. In high school, my “senior scholar” class took a field trip to see this movie because it was the only non-rated-R movie that our teacher thought had a “message” we could discuss. We were asked to give it a rating, 1-4 stars, and I pleaded my teacher to allow me to give it zero stars. I stand by my senior-in-high-school opinion. Awful.

    I Heart Huckabees and The Sweetest Thing are great recommendations. I’ve nominated IHH before, it is pretentious and redundant with jokes that are completely unfunny. Sweetest Thing has a glory hole joke in a “chick flick.” Awful x2.

  29. P.S. Patch Adams is a close second for me. Although I haven’t seen the ending because I walked out of the room while watching it at a friends house… I had seen enough.

  30. Andy  |   Posted on Nov 12th, 2008 0

    One Robin Wiilliams movie I’m suprised no one has mentioned is Insomnia, great movie.

  31. Eric  |   Posted on Nov 12th, 2008 0

    A.I.-Artificial Intelligence

  32. My Big Fat Greek Wedding
    Juno
    A Good Year

  33. spectator  |   Posted on Nov 12th, 2008 0

    pay it forward!

  34. Tim  |   Posted on Nov 13th, 2008 0

    The Phantom

  35. tttt  |   Posted on Nov 13th, 2008 -1

    Crash (2004)
    Vantage Point

  36. Also, I know it’s probably supposed to be ‘tongue in cheek’ or whatever, but I just watched Shark In Venice (you know, for a LAUGH) and oh my whatever ironic fun may have been intended by the post-Snakes On A Plane title are very quickly cancelled out by its hurtful badness. Stephen Baldwin is, without any doubt, drunk all the way through it.

  37. beautiful boy  |   Posted on Nov 14th, 2008 0

    PLEASE do “Beautiful Girls”
    The whole time I was watching it I couldn’t stop thinking how perfect it would be for this hunt. It tries SO hard to be a deep, interesting take on human relationships when (OMG new storyline) a guy returns to his hometown for a high school reunion. It features an all-star cast of Uma Thurman, Matt Dillon, a young Natalie Portman, that hot redhead from Dumb and Dumber, David Arquette (eww), ROSIE O’DONNELL.

    Just one example of the terribleness, the main character creepily/terribly played by Timothy Hutton meets Natalie Portman outside his house when he first comes home, has never met her before, and 13-yr-old Natalie decides to go all observational on his life, acting like she knows all about his past, when SHE JUST MOVED IN RECENTLY. and he proceeds to fall in love with her! like WTF, its portrayed as cute and normal, it is NOT.
    and some random scene of Rosie O’Donnell trouncing through a grocery store talking about how guys only like girls for their tits that comes out of nowhere. Im not even scratching the surface here. So shitty.
    I can just imagine how you’d ridicule it.

  38. How can Southland Tales be knocked out of 1st place? No way. Go back and try watching ST again. Just pick up the box if you dare. There’s no way you will be able to even remove the DVD from the box without convulsing.

  39. What makes this movie so un-noteworthy, is that Colbert pretty much upped the game by actually trying to run for President. Not only that, but it was actually funny! Saved me from having to watch this.

  40. Frankly, the worst movie of all time has to have Robin Williams in it. It should be a categorical requirement. He is capable of sucking the funny right out of anything. He’s also capable of sucking drama, pathos, or any other intended effect right out of anything he’s associated with in any way.

  41. greg  |   Posted on Feb 21st, 2009 0

    Man, I only watched part of this movie, since I have a gag reflex, but I was stunned at the unnecessary length and complete idiocy of Laura Linney’s drug-induced breakdown. “Hey, guys, Laura Linney is really good actress, at least when she’s in decent films. Let’s change the script so that the part where she falls down because she’s on drugs becomes… the part where she talks really quickly, and is kind of strangely rude, and has sudden outbursts, and then spills stuff. Sweet!”

  42. murraystar  |   Posted on Mar 8th, 2009 0

    Please do:
    -The Leonardo Dicaprio version of Romeo + Juliet
    -The Billy Bob Thornton version of Bad News Bears
    -The animated version of The King and I
    -Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa

  43. Napoleon Complex  |   Posted on Jul 15th, 2009 +1

    “For example, everyone in the movie thinks Robin Williams is HILARIOUS. America LOVES him. Except that he’s horrible and annoying and obnoxious and not funny at all.”

    Oh my god, Gabe! I cannot take your Robin Williams hate any longer. He was wonderful in some movies [Good WIll Hunting, Dead Poets Society] and meh in some terrible ones [Bicentennial Man, etc.]

    Yes, he has CRAP taste in picking movies most of the time. But, goddamnit, he’s funny and can really act.
    Stop stamping all over my childhood!

    *gets downvoted 52 times*

  44. Man of the year… agree, terrible, terrible fucking movie.

    I found this page looking for “man of the year worst algorithm ever” because stupid writers of this fucking film thought “oh and a crazy system error explains everything” but NO NO NO…. what the fucking hell is wrong with that people?

    Oh yeah, the repeated letter on one candidate’s name beats alphabetically the other ones……….. that is the most stupid thing I ever heard.

    I would prefer to have Woody Allen as my father instead of watching this crappy movie again.

    by the way….. I recently saw Greenberg…. great competition for man of the year as the worst shit on the world. Don’t see that fucking movie.

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