Deceptive marketing of `Man of the Year'

The Gripe

The Gripe

October 13, 2006|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,Sun Movie Critic

Robin Williams in a George Washington wig? Uh-oh, looks like another gonzo romp from America's most manic comic.

At least that's how the studio is selling Barry Levinson's new movie, Man of the Year. The posters feature Williams in full Colonial regalia - ready, no doubt, to riff for 20 minutes on the hilarity of being known as the "father" of our country. The TV commercials, full of cracks and quips and barely contained energy, make the movie look like a sequel to an earlier Levinson-Williams collaboration, only this one would be called Good Morning, Washington.

But that's not this film at all. Yes, Williams gets to be funny, but not in the hyper-adrenalized way for which he's became famous. Man of the Year is not a laughfest, but a rather pointed - and not very outlandish - political comedy, featuring a relatively constrained Williams as a TV satirist who takes his run for president very seriously. His candidacy is played for insight, not yucks. In fact, the scene featuring Williams in the Washington wig is one of the film's weakest and far from its funniest.

No one benefits when studios try to market films as what they aren't. Audience expectations go unfulfilled, and that kind of disappointment is certainly not going to breed good word-of-mouth. Even the filmmakers feel cheated, because audiences aren't judging the movie on its own merits.

Hey, if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, don't try to sell it as a parakeet. You'll only confuse the bird and tick off the guy who wonders why his new pet won't tweet.

chris.kaltenbach@baltsun.com

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