Bob Roberts (1992)
"Bob? Ain't that a bitch!" - Prince
Tim Robbins was condemning the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy before Hillary made it cool. He wrote, directed and starred as the titular Bob Roberts in 1992. Bob Roberts was a smiling, good looking and charismatic fount of pure, twisted conservative Republican evil.
Politics aside, Robbins made a really outstanding and clever movie with a strong vision, and no small number of laughs. He took every bad or bad sounding thing from the original Reagan-Bush years, and rolled it into one almost believable conspiracy arch. You see, the damned conservatives were looting S&Ls to invest in drug running from Central America to raise money to support the Contras- and enrich themselves, naturally. These couple of sentences may not sound that promising for a movie comedy, but the skill of the writing puts it all across.
Particularly, he created an exceptionally clever and comedy worthy frame for the whole thing. Bob Roberts is a pop star, writing folk style songs to express his fanatical and callous right wing views- which form the basis for a candidacy for the US Senate. This gives him endless opportunities to invert Dylan, the classic model for this stuff, for example his album "The Times Are Changin' Back." He also has a video parodying the famous cards-in-the-alley video, in which Bob Roberts now advocates making millions "by any means necessary."
One big aspect that makes the whole thing work is the quality of the songs that Tim and his brother David Robbins wrote. Just as songs, they are more interesting than anything Dylan himself has done in 20 years. They're pretty catchy, have fairly simple but effective and wide ranging arrangements, and the stench of sulfur from hell emanating from every single one. For example, he really embodies the war on drugs in "Drugs Stink" in which he encourages the literal lynching of drugs users and sellers. "Be a clean living man with a rope in your hand." Not only that, it's a catchy little tune.
Putting it in another context, I'd rate the songs from Bob Roberts notably superior to the actually good songs from the classic Spinal Tap. Both movies feature songs specially written as parodic content in character. Tap had some grooves, but the brothers Robbins wrote much more intricately clever songs. This not surprising in that Tap songs were Zen songs written in the voices of stupid people. Roberts is a wicked smart dude, much more interesting. The tunes are more developed, the arrangements not purposely cheesy. The words of "Complain" are more sophisticated than those of, say, "Sex Farm". Not only are all the songs strong, but individually distinctive. Each one is a unique stylistic creation, not quite like any other.
Another thing that makes the flick great is just how far Robbins is willing to go, which is pretty far the hell out there. Specifically, the guy is conniving enough to stage an assassination attack on himself. Damn, but that's a HARDCORE Republican bastard.
The climax of the plotline kicks in on a guest musician appearance on the Cutting Edge Live television show- a doppleganger for Saturday Night Live. As a writer, Robbins took the time to make a nicely unsympathetic swipe at SNL as self-deluded corporate sell outs, nothing but glorified faux-progressive PR flacks for the military-industrial complex. He explained this directly in a monologue being rehearsed by the guest host. Then he demonstrated it with the inanity of the cast and material of the show. For this little subplot, I've never seen a harsher or better drawn criticism of this iconic show. This segment alone about justifies the effort of watching the movie.
Note how he plays the puds at the show. As a matter of artistic integrity and in the spirit of live television, he insists on performing a brand new song live on the air, a patriotic statement that he had written just that very afternoon. Then he reached over to play the reel-to-reel tape of the pre-recorded orchestral arrangements for what turns out to be essentially a campaign song. The perfect cynicism of this gesture shows precision and careful thought in the writing.
Look, if you have any taste at all for political movies, then you really HAVE to see this, to own a DVD. If Dr Strangelove, Wag the Dog and The Manchurian Candidate rate high on your list of groovy movies, this one is absolutely for you, even if you don't necessarily buy a lot of the left wing politics.
A Modest Proposal to Monkey with Tim Robbins' Mind
Al's Fan Pages
To Al's More Things Log [updated frequently]
More Things Home
morethings master photo gallery index little richard photos buddy holly pictures fats domino images chuck berry pictures 01/ 02/ 03/ 04/ 05/ 06/ 07/ 08/ 09/ 10/ 11/ 12/ 01/02/ 03/ 04/ 05/ 06/ 07/ 08/ 09/ 10/ 11/ 12 01/ 02/ 03/ 04/ 05/ 06/ 07/ 08/ 09/ 10/ 11/ 12/01/ 02/ 03/ 04/ 05/ 06/ 07/ 08/ 09/ 10/ 11/ 12/08/ 09/ 10/ 11/ 12/ manchurian candidate pictures lucille ball images james blunt photos clint eastwood pictures lena horne images team america pictures robert mitchum photos bruce springsteen pictures mariah carey pictures ann coulter photos sissy spacek pictures tanya tucker images loretta lynn pictures beatles pictures white stripes pictures andy griffith pictures kill bill pictures parliament funkadelic p-funk pictures beverly hillbillies pictures john mellencamp photos frank zappa pictures jerry lee lewis pictures richard pryor photos june carter johnny cash pictures vic mackey shield pictures macy gray pictures james cagney images elvis presley pictures paul simon photos dolly parton pictures devil and daniel webster images devil whores pictures tom petty photos tori amos pictures joaquin phoenix images Quills movie images peter lorre images reese witherspoon pictures flaming lips images rolling stones photos fiona apple images dr strangelove pictures elvis costello images ray charles photos marx brothers pictures prince rogers nelson pictures blazing saddles images sinead o'connor images eddie murphy photos all in the family pictures south park pictures homer simpson images bob dylan pictures elizabeth taylor photos drawn together images saturday night live pictures hee haw pictures james brown images pete townshend photos tina turner pictures dixie chicks photos robert anton wilson images