What went wrong is the movie didn't know what it wanted to be. Sometimes it was a comedy (that was when it was at its best), then all of a sudden it would change dramatically into a suspense thriller, then it would change dramatically again and become a straight drama, dangerous for a comedy!!
Plus the movie commits two cardinal sins of bad movie writing: a voice over narration (by Christopher Walken) and a lengthy speech at the end of the movie by a reformed character. If you can't SHOW us what's happening, why isn't this on the radio. Remember, movies are a visual medium so narration is not necessary. The only time it works is like in the "Christmas Story" when someone is commenting on the action, not describing it.
The other cardinal sin is taking on technology as a problem, in this case electronic voting machines. First of all, the buttons beep on the computers when you press them. Look guys, it is 2006, we all have computers EVERYWHERE! They don't beep every time you depress a key, the sound you hear is clicks at best because of the keyboard, but Robin Williams was using a touch screen, so no noise at all!!
My friend Lee with whom I saw it, complained that the lady that worked for the company in charge of the electronic voting machines (Laura Linney) had too easy of access to a person who was going to be the next President. Also, Robin Williams so easily believed this person that he never met and when he did, she did so as an FBI imposter. Though a quick verbal reference was made about this point later on in the film, it seemed hastily added in a rewrite because people didn't buy it when they saw a rough cut. I still didn't buy it!
Barry Levinson the director has done some good stuff i.e. "Rainman", but he has done more crap. He needs to leave his political agenda at home. What would have been a better movie, is that Robin Williams' character would have still won the presidency, but it wouldn't be technology that did him in, but rather his own incompetence. I mean, imagine if he tried to make other world leaders laugh with his comedy and they didn't get his jokes and set off a bomb on us instead. Funnier and more effective.
Levinson would have succeeded much better in making this a farce. He still could have gotten his points across, but have a snappier ending a la "Doctor Strangelove". Levinson had this same problem with "Wag the Dog", a good concept with a lousy execution.
Remember, this WAS the bell boy in Mel Brooks' "High Anxiety"! We know Levinson can do more!!
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