What keeps "Man of the Year" alive is the homey interplay of its principals, Tom's talk-show staff coming off like a fun family of kooks. Walken's a grand old man as the entertainment manager who becomes an unlikely kingmaker, despite an odd subplot about his character's health problems from smoking.
Black, toned down from the bellow of his standup act, is surprisingly even-keeled as Tom's wise and wisecracking writer. Jeff Goldblum is thrown in to little effect as the dastardly corporate attorney hiding the truth about whether the computerized voting system was flawed.
Linney's the real victor, creating a rich, noble, conflicted character who's a much worthier successor than Tom to the everyman heroes of such films as "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," which Levinson seems to be emulating.
There was a much better movie tucked inside the story of Linney's Eleanor, the meek corporate serf fighting back against corrupt bosses. If the title wasn't already taken by a Katherine Hepburn-Spencer Tracy classic, Eleanor would have made a fine heroine for a movie called "Woman of the Year."
"Man of the Year," a Universal release, is rated PG-13 for language including some crude sexual references, drug related material and brief violence. Running time: 115 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.