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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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 »
Best Political Thriller Since The Manchurian Candidate
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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