Bob Roberts (1992) Poster

(1992)

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10/10
... or how I learned to stop worrying and love politics
blubb064 March 2008
"Times are changing back, times are changing back, times are changing back today...", sings ultra-right-wing politician/folksinger Bob Roberts. Grandmommies & -daddies who know just-who-the-heck Bob Dylan was might remember his song "The times, they are a-changing" — yeah, that was waaaaay back when Grandmommy & Granddaddy wore flowers, made free love and smoked marijuana to make their hair grow faster. And peace, No-to-Vietnam, civil rights and all that hot sh*t, in the year I was born (but not in the USA).

Somebody else pointed out the Dylan documentary "Don't Look Back", from which several scenes were derived — including the one where Bob Roberts and his blonde co-singer practice their hymn "We're marching for self-interest" while Bob checks his stocks on his laptop. In 1967, Joan Baez sang "Pretty Polly".

Polly, pretty Polly, come and go along with me / Before we get married some pleasure to seek

He led her over mountains and valleys so deep / Polly misjudged him and she began to weep

Sayin' Willie, Oh Willie, I'm afraid of your ways / The way you've been ramblin' you'd lead me astray

He said, Polly, pretty Polly, your guess is about right / I dug on your grave the best part of last night

I don't know much about US politics, although I sometimes wonder why they apparently have only two political parties since at least 200 years. But "Bob Roberts" is not an American movie, although it portrays the rise of a pure-bred American Hitler. Those two parties exist virtually everywhere, at least in every Western "democracy", and although they take turns every few years and have other names, the underlying power structure is the same, as their politics are increasingly the same.

This is a movie for the grassroots, a socio-political comment and a satire. It's supposed to stimulate the little gray cells, look at our leaders and our TV screens and ask, are we getting what we signed up for? What is the truth, and do I want to know?
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Don't Miss the Point; This is Satire, not Commentary
brentbgerson29 February 2004
The focus of most of these comments has been on the film's perceived political commentary on American politics.

Let's make one thing clear: This film is a satire, not a commentary; in my opinion it's not about Republicans or Democrats, or conservatives or liberals; it is about the nature of democracies.

The point that the film, "Bob Roberts", makes can be summed up very clearly. Here is the nature of democracies: Voters choose winners over losers, champions over whiners, statements of power over statements of sacrifice. The list goes on; people prefer form over function, youth over age, presentation/entertainment over substance.

This film does transcend political lines; but in it's context, lets take a look at the specifics. Bob Roberts is electable because his message is just vague and occluded enough by his presentation, that he seems likeable. His message is not unique or original; he speaks to the elements that have always appealed to the more right-wing or fascistic elements of society; marginalization of the weak (in this case, the poor), empowerment of the common man, family values, etc.

Roberts' opponent, Paiste, is a textbook liberal; but this contest is not about left vs. right. Paiste is an educated man, and a career politician. He acknowledges the challenges in the American economy. He actually has answers to the issues; whether they are politically favorable or not is not significant. Roberts, on the other hand, says nothing about the real issues; he appeals only to the emotions of the mob, and because he uses the medium of folk music, he offends the sensibilities of liberals (both in the movie, and in its audience), because he uses the authenticity of the 60's and its messages of change, and "perverts" them to express his messages of reactionism and exclusion.

And it works.

Tim Robbins has a winner here, and this film gets overlooked because it gets dragged into these conversations about Robbins' own political views, and whether the film is making a statement about Republicans or Democrats. But Robbins says something far more universal with this film; democracies are not safe from tyranny or fascism; all it takes is a charismatic reactionary who can manipulate the interests of the press and the political interests to rise to power by appealing to the worst elements of our psyche, for entertainment, glamour, and exclusionism. Please remember that Hitler came to power by appealing to the worst aspects of the people of his nation, and was quite successful in creating much evil from that. Being part of a free nation comes with a huge responsibility; to carefully consider who we elect and what we value, and to allow those debates to have meaning. "Bob Roberts" shows us how easily we can neglect that responsibility, and how easily voters can be sold an offensive, exclusionary message, when it is wrapped up in something more attractive than what's real.
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10/10
One of the most frightening films ever!
Tiger_Mark5 February 2002
This movie is a harrowing look at the reality of politics in the United States. The story shows how an evil man can utilize right wing themes and hot button issues to gain real power and influence the direction of this country. Robbins is great as the right wing, folk singer, businessman, racist, Senatorial candidate that is hoping to be Pennsylvania's voice in Washington. The sad thing is, as you watch the film, you see how easy it is for this horrible man to manipulate the media into getting him elected. By using good looks and off hand remarks candidates are able to steer elections in the direction they want them to go. Meanwhile, honesty takes a back seat to how well a candidate can croon a song. Truth trails behind what the media might be able to use as entertainment. The media is dazzled by fluff and sound bites, they turn a deaf ear to real issues. When I saw this film the first time, I was very uncomfortable. The film was too close to reality. Bob Roberts is a Joe McCarthy/Rush Limbaugh for the 1990's. Although they might seem harmless on the surface, they do pose real danger. This movie is important and should be seen by all voters. It tries to teach people to look at the facts and the real issues and put the fluff aside. Ahh, if only that could be done.
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Might be the best political satire of all time
jce0617 February 1999
Tim Robbins has made one heck of a statement with this film presenting politics as it really is, crooked and disturbing. The screenplay is brilliantly clever brimming with brutal honesty about the political battle in washington.Robbins plays the right-wing politician perfectly portraying a crooked yuppie business man willing to do anything to get elected to the US Senate a must see film one of the best films of the decade.
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10/10
This is the Face of Politics
nycritic16 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Whether you like it or not, Bob Roberts is here to stay. He's that kind of a guy, the kind that can sweep you off your feet, rally the crowds into a frenzy and have them eating out of his hand. He's the Perfect Politician, and that's why he's going to win... even if it takes a little manipulation here and there and maybe even some slight legerdemain. But you don't have to know that. All you have to know is that he's the guy with that open smile, he's the guy who can sing a folk song, he's the Poster Boy for the American Dream, the one who can make this country a Country and make us proud to be an American citizen. He's the man you'll see on every news channel -- Headline News, Fox News, CNN, MSNBC -- and he'll make you feel good about yourself. He'll talk about promise, he'll embrace the people, and the people will love him, because he's their Hero.

This is one sharp tack of a movie, and one that every thinking person should sit on and feel the prick and maybe even see a drop of blood come out like a red flag. Tim Robbins is the new Orson Welles in the fact that he's able to direct, write, and star in his movie about corruption in the political arena. With this movie he's made his own little moving picture that depicts what we see on a daily basis once election times comes sway -- candidate against candidate, using the worst possible tactics to make the other seem unworthy of a vote, always promising to make things better, improve the status of life, and making sure they look as primped and handsome and camera friendly as humanly possible, because it's a known fact that handsome men gain more votes than men who look like Ebenezer Scrooge.

And Robbins has those oddly engaging looks of his that make him the ideal person to cast in the role of the politician that is swaying the masses to his will in Pennsylvania. His is the face that looks angelic in many ways, but one that holds a little menace just under the surface. Maybe it's the coldness of his eyes, but when he plays characters like this he seems like he could slap you blind without a second's notice and immediately resume his camera-ready smile in no time. And how many politicians don't already look like him? I'd like to know. Bob Roberts is a summation of all of the wanna-be governors and presidents that we've seen display their talent for jab. We all want to follow someone, which is why the movie becomes this monster towards the end, and in one short scene Jack Black all but goes bonkers in his support for Roberts. That's the reality of the political game, and just another part of who we are as Americans.
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Eerily prophetic
heckles18 July 2000
I am surprised that no one in this comments index noticed how true-to-life this film turned out to be.

"Bob Roberts" was a 1992 'mock-umentry' about the election of a Republican know-nothing (the title character) to a U.S. Senate seat in Pennsylvania; in the movie Roberts wins against a too-brainy-to win Democrat played by Gore Vidal. The real 1994 U.S. Senate race in Pennsylvania featured Rick Santorum as the Republican candidate. Santorum not only had the same aggressively anti-intellectual outlook as Roberts (I understand his staff is afraid to leave him alone with the press lest he 'throw a brick'), he even used generous helpings of Roberts' faux-revolutionary rhetoric to claim that his election would be an empowerment of the common people of Pennsylvania against a murkily-described 'elite'. In fact, Santorum, like Roberts, was a front man for an economic interest - to wit, the health insurance industry - who bankrolled 95% of his lavish campaign and which was eager to replace his rival, Harris Wolford, who was an advocate for universal health coverage. Like the Vidal character, Wolford was disadvantaged by being a genuinely concerned person whose detailed worldview found it hard to stand effectively against the style of Santorum/Roberts.

Guess who represents our state today.
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Why is this movie so offensive?
ajdagreat12 June 2001
I didn't understand why Republicans were so offended by this movie. Bob Roberts's political affiliation had nothing to do with his dirty campaign tricks. Bob Roberts could just as easily have been a Democrat. This film is not mocking Republican dishonesty, but political dishonesty. Tim Robbins does a great job as an evil, hypocritical folk singer / politician, and there is a very good supporting cast. Not laugh-out-loud funny, but bitingly satirical and creepy.
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9/10
hilarious political satire
dave fitz26 August 2000
"Bob Roberts" is the writing and directing debut of the very talented actor Tim Robbins. It is filmed in documentary style, telling the story of Bob Roberts, the conservative son of hippie parents who is running for the U.S. Senate seat from Pennsylvania. His message is conveyed through a series of folk songs. His albums and videos are reminiscent of Bob Dylan (The Freewheelin' Bob Roberts), but his songs have titles like "Drugs Stink" and "This Land Was Made For Me" and lyrics like "what's right is right, what's left is wrong".

It's funny to see the very liberal Robbins play a character like this. The songs, written by Robbins and his brother David, are very witty and biting and get his point across beautifully.

Bob pulls a crazy stunt near the end to try to sway voters in his direction which I'm surprised no real politician has done. James Spader does an absolute perfect parody of a news anchor. A very funny movie, particularly the songs Robbins sings. Brilliant satire. The final shot in this movie, like the one in Robbins' Cradle Will Rock, is very powerful.
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The History Of The Present Day
SunRock179 July 2004
An amazing work!

Twice I had to confirm the release date of 1992 since this film's precise and uncanny applicability to the events of this last year were amazing. The political dynamic under which this country suffers today - along with the cabal currently installed in the White House that employed precisely the same tactics as defined in this film - were recreated, or more accurately foretold, with an uncanny truthfulness, precise focus, and vivid clarity.

Tim Robbins' direction, writing, and acting were all phenomenal; I never really fully appreciated his talent and brilliance until this film; Gore Vidal's contribution was a special treat from both a fine actor and a remarkable intellect.

Well worth the time - and a replay or two to capture, fully, all of the nuance and insight of this fine work.
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A caricature, but relevant and frightening nonetheless
DougF-23 May 2003
A broad take on arch-conservatism in American politics that rings true on many levels, false on others. The songs and videos are the weak points--simple and shallow as they are, it's hard to buy that Bob Roberts could have had any commercial success at all. On the other hand, the portrayals of the newscasters and Roberts' followers are a beautiful mix of satire and truth.

There are so many broad caricatures on this film, I found myself wishing that Tim Robbins would have toned it down for the sake of believability. This film lays it on a little heavy, which keeps it from being a more important work. None the less, it is eerily more timely in 2003 than it was in 1992.

As you will read, this is a highly political movie which may be friendly or unfriendly to your political sensibilities. Keep that in mind when you read this, or any, review. ;-)
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As much a satire on the left as the right
Noel-Chevalier28 October 2004
I can understand why Republicans would be upset by this film, but I think that Democrats and/or small-"l" liberals should squirm when they watch this, too. The real sting in this film is that, devious and repulsive as Bob Roberts is, he is far more charismatic and interesting than his tired rival, Brickley Paiste (Gore Vidal), and he has managed to appropriate all of the weapons of the 1960s protest movements (including that most sacred insitution of all, folk music) and use them with a vigour that is scarily convincing. Roberts has the adulation of young men and women (watch for a young Jack Black as a smitten fan), the power of the record industry, and access to concerts halls and media coverage to get his message across. What does the left have? A rabid underground journalist (Bugs Raplin), a goofy "Saturday Night Live"-type show (Cutting Edge Live) that may once have been edgy, but now just seems silly (even Roberts himself is a fan), a tired old senator droning on about social programs (Paiste), and a few strident voices crying in the wilderness, (including the journalist played by Lynne Thigpen). Roberts has replaced Bob Dylan as the "voice of his generation" (Robbins includes a hilarious riff on Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues" video from "Don't Look Back"). Robbins' real target here is how the ideals of the 60s have failed miserably, how times have changed back, and how greed, self-interest and intolerance have become the new order of the 1990s (and continue today). Roberts is *not* George Bush (senior or junior)--he's a much more frightening animal who shows up just how the voices of dissent have dwindled into insignificance.
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8/10
Best Political Thriller Since The Manchurian Candidate
Dan1863Sickles6 September 2006
A guitar-twanging conservative with youthful looks and dark charisma launches a disturbing drive for political power in this perceptive and disturbing black comedy, written and directed by Tim Robbins.

There are lots of reasons to dislike Tim Robbins. He's a movie star. He's smug, self-righteous, arrogant, self-pitying, and rich. He's married to Susan Sarandon, the most gorgeous and vibrant mature woman imaginable. He has so much, yet consistently strikes the pose of a martyr. I tuned into this movie prepared to hate it, but came away very impressed. Whatever his flaws as a citizen or a political thinker, Tim Robbins is a gifted film maker. The musical numbers are hysterical, and the documentary style comedy is the best since SPINAL TAP. The movie keeps moving at a suspenseful pace, and the chilling ending is surprisingly convincing, understated rather than too melodramatic.

Now there are some flaws to this movie that I think merit discussion. Tim Robbins hates the Bob Roberts character he plays, hates him with a passion. Yet he strikes several false notes. Some reviewers would deny this, but Bob Roberts is clearly supposed to be an "evil" Republican populist like Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush. And that's fine. But Robbins gets into trouble by making Roberts too much like . . . well, like Tim Robbins.

Bob Roberts is a too hip. He's a Hollywood hipster. He digs folk music, adores Bob Dylan, and is entirely too cerebral and too in love with the flash and glamor of MTV type videos. Tim Robbins misses the essence of how conservatives market themselves, how they tap into (and genuinely share) the loathing the white working class feels for intellectuals and artists. Bob Roberts minces around in a white fencing suit, fencing with his campaign manager, like a proud Prussian prince. Fencing! When George W. Bush was at Andover, he named himself "high commissioner of stickball." He knew even then that fencing was worse than polo. Tim Robbins misses the point about what cultural populism really means.

On a deeper level, this movie wants to leave you in a cold sweat, like Frankenheimer's 1962 version of THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE. And it succeeds, to a degree. But these characters are all surface, with no depth. Bob Roberts is as cold and reptilian as Raymond Shaw, but the problem is that his evils are all political, not personal. You don't see more than a second or two of Roberts' parents and early life. You certainly don't see a maniacal mother figure like Angela Lansbury in THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE. There's not a hint of connection between the inner, emotional, or sexual lives of these characters and their extreme political convictions. Bob Roberts has a wife, a blonde who hangs on his arm and smiles adoringly, but we see nothing else. Married to a woman as formidable as Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins must know much more than this about marriage. But he doesn't accept the challenge. As a result Bob Roberts is a political cartoon rather than a person. And therefore the movie is chilling, but ultimately not as profound or tragic as older political films like THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE.
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9/10
Great Rorshach Film
MWillis3 April 2000
I have a special place in my heart for this film. I guess that if you are dyed-in-the-wool Republican, you may be offended, because Tim Robbins plays the heartless Republican stereotype for laughs. Some may question the plausibility of electing a lying weasel, but students of history will not. The movie takes a multitude of real-world scandals, combines them amusingly, and leaves the viewer with a chilling finale.
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a chilling look from 1992 into the future
phanatic116017 February 2006
time has certainly given this great movie a prophetic subtext. an informed viewer will see it like a documentary but with fictionalized characters instead of the real people.

anyone who thinks this is 'parody' or 'satire' needs to stop following the news via headlines and pundits.

for example the speech by the underground reporter about Iran contra and everyone being the same players throughout the decades rings especially true and is an obvious example of how the movie parallels the political status quo today.

a 'must watch' movie, much more so today than when it was originally released.
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Interesting, flawed, memorable
lauloi31 March 2002
I was fascinated by this self-contradictory, sometimes maddening film. I had only seen a snippet of it before, the brilliant song parody of a right-wing folksinger singing about welfare recipients who "complain and complain and complain and complain and complaaaaain!" I was impressed by the quality of this ditty and rented the movie.

Although billed as a comedy, I found this one to be a generally oil-and-water mixture of paranoid leftist diatribe and political comedy. Everytime a stereotypical "Republican" character elicited the response in my brain "nobody acts like THAT" I remembered, "oh yes, it's a comedy". Although I laughed less and my heart beat faster as the movie progressed...

I guess what disturbed me about this picture is it's off-kilter perspective. The viewer realizes that this slimy Machiavellian manipulator needs to be opposed. But the opposition seems to be almost equally unsympathetic. The screaming, cursing, holier-than-thou Saturday night live cast. The urbane liberal running against Bob who maintains that the CIA and National Security Council run the country. (Yeah, right...they can't even figure out that people can fly planes into buildings). The only rational perspective comes from the British documentary reporter, who views our political system with dry distaste. Was Tim Robbins making the statement that all Americans are crazy, including American filmmakers, and that only Europeans can be rational? If so, I strongly disagree (see Exhibits WWI and II)

The other disappointment for me was the downward spiral of song quality as the movie progresses. "Drugs stink"? Songs like this wouldn't bring even the zombified audiences the movie postulates into a frenzy.

Despite its flaws, however, I found Bob Roberts well worth watching for its star performances (Tim was great), its innovative camera work, and its emotional impact. I'd give it an 8.
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8/10
Bob Roberts: Underrated Classic.
What_A_Shame20 August 2014
Okay, make no mistake: Bob Roberts is definitely not the most subtle film ever made. It's not so much a veiled attack on the American right-wing as it is an all singing, all dancing celluloid spit in the Republican party's face. It's also as paranoid as a junkie, and almost proudly one sided, which might be why it has slipped into relative obscurity - it's a film that could be very easily dismissed as a piece of left-wing propaganda, directed by and starring Tim Robbins, an outspokenly leftist actor.

But, Bob Roberts is a film that deserves a lot more attention than it receives, largely because unlike a lot of political comedies, it's actually funny.

Bob Roberts is a mockumentary about a right wing politician/folk singer named (unsurprisingly) Bob Roberts. Roberts is a kind of anti Bob Dylan, whose modus operandi is to emulate the spirit of the folk singing radicals and then deliberately turn their message on its head - he sings songs about enforcing the death penalty on drug dealers, and the positives of investing in the stock market. Dylan provides such an obvious touchstone for the character that it's arguable the whole film is as much a spoof of the Dylan documentary Don't Look Back as it is a political satire.  The songs are a good example of what makes this film work. Sure, they're unashamedly political and barbed - they're the kind of spoofs that you'll now find dime a dozen on youtube - but they are so painfully earnest and straightfaced that they're kind of hypnotic. In Bob Roberts, Robbins has created a character who absolutely believes the terrible and terrifying things he sings about, and he plays the part with a wide eyed enthusiasm that makes you laugh, but in that oh so unsettling "I'm genuinely disturbed by this" kind of way.  The jokes are totally underplayed, save for an out of place 'before they were famous' Jack Black cameo appearance. He's the only actor who inhabits his role as if it's meant to be funny, all but giving the audience a big fourth wall breaking wink. Everyone else, however, lets the humour come naturally from the insanity of what they're saying: they don't gurn to the camera. From Alan Rickman's performance as the shadowy Big Business agent to Gore Vidal as Bob Roberts' running mate, the rest of the cast play the thing totally straight-faced.

Sure, the movie's pretty preachy, but it never becomes boring: at a lean 102 minutes, it's a freight train of a film, spitting out characters, situations, and genuinely thrilling plot twists.

Best of all is the film's ending, which is as cutting as the punchline to a sick joke. There's no messing around to this one. The conclusion socks you in the guts then carries on its way, whistling Bob Roberts' "Drugs Stink" as it goes.
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Bob Roberts (1992)
jtwcosmos3 September 2011
Warning: Spoilers
"Self determination. The choice to be... what you want to be. And I wanted to be... rich!"

This is the story of a superstar singer turned politician. The movie has good directing, a good script, excellent acting, countless cameos and funny, witty and entertaining music.

Tim Robbins is the mastermind behind this movie. He is directing, acting, writing, singing, song writing - in one word, he does everything. And he does everything well. His directing is brilliant and the subject allows him to try his hand at directing movies, video clips, concerts and political rallies, all in one. And the result is incredible. There is a lot of mobility to the movie, and he uses the shaky cam a lot, but without the shaky part, which is remarkable. Also there is a clear distinction between mobile and static scenes, and the two don't mix, they don't bleed into each other, and there is no attempt to film one mobile scene with a fixed camera or the other way around.

The script starts lighthearted, funny and highly entertaining and it turns darker and darker as time goes by. The narration and the narrator are brilliant, the mix of singing and politics is very well done, managing a fine balance. There are heavier touches later in the movie, as the writer drives his point home, but they are to be expected. There is also subtlety and innuendo.

The actors are very good. Tim Robbins is a natural, both as an actor and as a singer, and his portrayal of a tireless, relentless, flawless political machine is brilliant. Gore Vidal is excellent, and Alan Rickman and Ray Wise are perfect for their roles.

There are a lot of cameos by A-list and B-list Hollywood actors, and the movie turns at times into a veritable "Spot the celebrity" kind of game, which ads to the entertaining value. "James Spader, hello Sir, right this way. Here are your lines, this way please. Susan Sarandon, Hellen Hunt, Pamela Reed, Fred Ward, Jon Cusack, welcome, welcome. Here are your parts, please go right this way. Jack Black, Jack Black... I'm sorry Sir, I don't know anybody by that name, but please, please do come in. We'll see what we can do."

The music is the glue that brings this movie together. It is militant, the lyrics are catchy and brutally honest, even if they are meant as a satire, not to be played out of context. The music video clips are hilarious and the concerts are very engaging and even moving, at times. The end credits feature a Bob Dylan like moment, the inspiration for the music and for the movie as a whole, bringing the powerful performance to a full circle.

Bob Roberts. Brilliant movie, witty, entertaining and downright scary, at times. 10/10.
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9/10
Painful
cyclonev12 May 2003
Excellent. Dreadfully, horrifically real. Having spent quite some time in the US, I was stunned at the highly violent and offensive extreme right-wing media that is so prevalent there. For those reviewers who have claimed there is no right wing bias in the US media, you are either maliciously telling untruths or you are incredibly blind to reality. I heard a right wing CHRISTIAN station announcer stating that any woman who commits adultery (not man, mind you) should be killed. Seriously. This wasn't an isolated instance of such offensive statements, just an example of what I saw and heard. I didn't find this movie funny, because it's all so terribly true.
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4/10
Not very good.
billcody20 August 2002
This is one of those movies that gets by on supposedly having it's heart in the right place - AND the fact that it was made by members of the Hollywood elite. It is in reality a cute short film stretched to an interminable length and infused with naive, bumper sticker politics.

After the first twenty minutes the script turns into a muddled, poorly written political thriller which is neither suspenseful nor interesting. It is at this point that the movie begins pounding a lot of DNC approved, totally BS, psuedo-liberal nonsense down the audience's collective throat. I was almost waiting for someone to start talking about grassy knoll and the book repository.

I would be curious to know if and when Warren Beatty saw Bob Roberts because his film Bullworth explores similar themes in a mature and thoughtful manner. In that film Beatty shows a greater understanding of both politics and film making. I almost wonder if Beatty's film was a response to Bob Roberts because it is clearly an attack on the kind of kneejerk liberalism that characterizes this film.

It's too bad that Robbins got so much acclaim for this trite, overstuffed, student film - I think it stunted his growth as a film maker as the boring, poorly paced Cradle Will Rock clearly demonstrated.
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Satire is always commentary
mdavis-532 September 2006
If you think this movie is not commentary you've missed the point entirely. Satire is commentary. It is always commentary. This movie is a comment on all those politicians who do what Bob Roberts does in this movie--and if he doesn't resemble a Republican or two we have come too well to know in this country, well, then, I suppose you may as well believe you can have satire without commentary. And there's a bridge that might interest you.

Other than, that it's a very effective satire and hits its mark 9 times out of ten. Gore Vidal is...well, he's Gore Vidal in this movie, and that's quite enough, of course.

And Tim Robbins? Well, that's my point. Let's just say this: he's not Republican!
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10/10
Teeth-Grindingly Excellent
magdalen-425 January 2005
Bob Roberts creates an atmosphere of suspense and tension that literally had me on the edge of my seat, popcorn forgotten on my lap. The title character is so evil, yet at the same time so blithely ignorant of his own faults that he is able to convince almost everyone around him of his own righteousness. You will be repelled and fascinated at the same time. Without any explosions or special effects, this movie creates a sense of looming horror and black sarcasm that make it very scary - it's a thriller for thinking people. Like the movie Nurse Betty, I'm not sure why Bob Roberts is labeled as "Comedy" - both movies rely heavily on irony and satire, but are not "laugh out loud" joke-fests. Don't watch this expecting a lighthearted lampooning of politics, Bob Roberts is much darker and much more thought-provoking than that.
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10/10
highly recommended
quayle-17 April 2006
It was funny that this film contained so many ingredients, from Bob Dylan's work to the total political idiots (Quayle, Santorum, W. Bush), to the crazed Taliban- types in the Christian right-wing. While the messages contained many layers, not the least of which was the Iran-Contra scandal which was complex enough, somehow the film commanded attention and maintained humor. The degree of manipulation of the followers as well as the public at large provided a strong and funny picture of the impact of propaganda and the corporate media. This picture is now more relevant than ever. The extreme direction and antics of Bob Roberts has almost normalized in this age of a criminal regime. Forcasting the future and providing hysterical humor are the best of many assets of this film. It is very highly recommended. Rev. Bookburn, Radio Volta, Philadelphia
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10/10
a brilliant mockumentary/political satire
The ineffable Neutron-x29 December 2003
If Bob Roberts were a real person I would be very scared for America, check that, one of the scariest things is that there are many people like Bob Roberts in politics in real life. This excellent mockumentary passed me by when it came out, so I was glad to discover it now.

Strong performances by the whole cast really make this movie shine, Gore Vidal is especially convincing as the incumbent senator, as is Robbins himself and the eerie puppet master Alan Rickman. The message of style over substance in politics making the news in America holds even more true today.

It's really too bad that this movie was mismarketed and essentially buried, it seems that even now it hasn't gotten the audience it deserved. The politicized nature of the content is most certainly the cause of that you can be sure.

The songs are frighteningly well put together and convicing, apparantly Robbins never released a soundtrack for fear of having them taken out of context. Anybody even remotely interested in the Mockumentary genre, or in politics should definitely check this gem out. A brilliant piece of black comedy.
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Bob Roberts as Parody
rudden9 September 2003
I confess I did not read the other 58 comments on this film (as of Sept. 2003) in detail. But one element of this film that appears to have escaped most peoples' attention is that it is, among other things, a very clever parody of the D.A. Pennebaker Dylan documentary "Don't Look Back", with several scenes and shots structured reflect scenes in the Dylan film. Most chilling parody...in the Dylan film, Bob D. is typing lyrics in a corner while Joan Baez sings "Pretty Polly"...in Bob Roberts, Bob. R. is checking his stocks online while his girlfriend sings about right wingers Marching For America.

There are dozens of other parallels (the "Bob on Bob" album cover, the parody of the "Subterranean Homesick Blues" video, and the motorcycle crash)...rent Don't Look Back, then watch Bob Roberts again and enjoy.
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9/10
Chilling
psoftinfo17 August 2003
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this movie shortly after it came out and I was awestruck. I just rented it again (August 2003) and find that it is as relevant now as it was then -- perhaps even more so.

I like the fact that the movie doesn't try to explain what exactly is behind Bob Roberts's campaign. There are some hints that he may be a pawn, and there are some hints that he may be playing a pawn. Wheels within wheels.

I also like the fact that they didn't take the easy route and make him into some kind of neo-Nazi. Yes, there was the guy with the intense eyes and "Bob" written on his forehead, but Bob was given a broader appeal and a message that sounded (on the surface) very positive.

Also subtle was the depiction of the media. When Bob's competitor (Paiste, played wonderfully by Gore Vidal) loses ground in the polls, the media keeps dragging up the "accusations", even after it's no longer news and has been fully debunked. We wonder: are they pandering? Is somebody telling them what to say? Or are they just incapable of reporting news competently? The movie leaves it to us to decide.

Another subtlety crops up when Bob falls off the motorcycle. Without writing a spoiler, I'll just say that we briefly (and not blatantly) see evidence that his "free spirit on a motorcycle" image was carefully designed and managed. (If it's not clear what I'm referring to, I'll just say "the other white suit".) The same level of subtlety occurs when one of his campaign workers leaves "by mutual agreement". It's not completely clear what her mistake was, but the stage-managing of the whole event (e.g. the "Dom Perignon" comment) is quite enough to make the underlying point that she wasn't sufficiently committed (or bamboozled) for whatever the heck was really going on.

I expect that if I saw this film a third time I'd see even more little tidbits like those.

Incidentally, I watched this movie with my jaw permanently dropped.
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