7.0/10
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104 user 46 critic

Bob Roberts (1992)

Trailer
2:06 | Trailer
A conservative folk singer turns his hand to politics, running for the US Senate. He is not above dirty tricks and smear campaigns to gain an advantage over his opponent.

Director:

Tim Robbins

Writer:

Tim Robbins
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 4 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Tim Robbins ... Bob Roberts
Giancarlo Esposito ... Bugs Raplin
Alan Rickman ... Lukas Hart III
Ray Wise ... Chet MacGregor
Brian Murray ... Terry Manchester
Gore Vidal ... Senator Brickley Paiste
Rebecca Jenkins ... Delores Perrigrew
Harry Lennix ... Franklin Dockett
John Ottavino John Ottavino ... Clark Anderson
Robert Stanton ... Bart Macklerooney
Kelly Willis Kelly Willis ... Clarissa Flan
Merrilee Dale Merrilee Dale ... Polly Roberts
Tom Atkins ... Dr. Caleb Menck
David Strathairn ... Mack Laflin
James Spader ... Chuck Marlin
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Storyline

Documentary-style look at the fictional Senatorial campaign of Bob Roberts, an arch-conservative folk singer turned politician. This political satire includes several original songs co-written and performed by writer/director/star Tim Robbins, and cameo appearances by other stars as reporters and news anchors. Written by Scott Renshaw <as.idc@forsythe.stanford.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Vote first. Ask questions later. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for momentary language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The first three albums by Bob Roberts - The Freewheelin' Bob Roberts, Times Are Changin' Back, and Bob on Bob - were spoofs of/based on/homages to Bob Dylan's classic albums The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, The Times They Are A'Changin' and Blonde On Blonde, respectively, including the cover photos on the first two. See more »

Goofs

The film takes place in 1990, on the eve of the Persian Gulf War. In real life, neither of Pennsylvania's U.S. Senate seats were up for re-election that year. See more »

Quotes

Bob Roberts: [singing] Some people will have / Some simply will not / But they'll complain and complain and complain and complain and complain / Some people will work / Some never will / But they'll complain and complain and complain and complain and complain / Like this: / It's society's fault I don't have a job / It's society's fault I'm a slob / I'm a drunk, I don't have a brain / Give me a pamplet while I complain / Hey pal you're living in the land of the free No-one's gonna hand you opportunity
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Crazy Credits

Towards the end of the final credits, there is a heart-shaped outline surrounding the initials EMLA, JHR, MGR & SS (SS is in the center)... These stand for Susan Sarandon, their two children together, Jack Henry Robbins & Miles Guthrie Robbins, his step-daughter Eva Maria Livia Amurri (Susan's daughter with film-maker, Franco Amurri.) This is also in the credits for "Cradle Will Rock", another Tim Robbins directed film. Thanks are given to "The Bob Roberts Dancers"... See more »

Connections

References Tapeheads (1988) See more »

Soundtracks

Times Are Changing' Back
Music and Lyrics by David Robbins & Tim Robbins
Produced and Arranged by David Robbins
Choral Consultant Gil Robbins
Performed by The Chatham College Choir and The Shady Side Men's Choir
Solocist Angela Hall
Robbins Egg Music (c) 1992, A.S.C.A.P.
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User Reviews

 
Bob Roberts: Underrated Classic.
20 August 2014 | by What_A_ShameSee all my reviews

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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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA | UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

4 September 1992 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Bob Roberts See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$314,275, 7 September 1992

Gross USA:

$4,479,470

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$4,479,470
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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