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 <email@example.com>
The "Cutting Edge Live" TV show segment is shot at WQED's studio in Pittsburgh, home of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood (1968). King Friday's castle can be seen in the background as the production assistant storms across the soundstage to cut the power. When Fred Rogers was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Emmy Award for Daytime Television in 1997, Tim Robbins was the presenter. See more »
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 »
The reason that Iran-Contra happened is because nobody did anything substantial about Watergate. And the reason that Watergate happened is that there were no consequences from the Bay of Pigs. They are all the same operatives, didn't you notice? The foot soldiers in the Bay of Pigs, the plumbers that got busted at Watergate, the gunrunners in Iran contra: they are all the same people. The same faces. Now it doesn't take a genius to make the connection here. A secret government beyond the ...
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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 »
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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