What About Bob? ★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

I first saw this movie during its original theatrical run, which is somewhat unusual as we didn't see that many live-action movies that weren't directed at families. I think my brother was interested to see it because he's always been an antagonist and the trailer suggested that Bill Murray was playing the kind of boundary-pushing troll that he liked to be at times.

I, of course, hated the movie. I sided with Richard Dreyfuss's Dr. Marvin, rightly resentful of Bob's intrusions. Even at age 12, I understood that Marvin had every right to object to Bob essentially stalking him and ingratiating himself into Marvin's family. Maybe I would have been more accepting if there was a preexisting relationship between the two, but they'd only met and interacted in one scene that lasted all of what? Four minutes? Five?

Act I is mostly perfunctory, though Act II has some genuinely sweet - if improbable and predictable - character relationship moments. Of course it will be Bob, not Marvin, to get young Sigmund to dive. There's never any doubt of how that plot thread will resolve itself, and yet the earnestness of the performances by Murray and Charlie Korsmo sell the scene.

I caught several things that were over my head in 1991, though I'm too groggy at the moment to recall any except one. Marvin chastises his nihilistic son's insistence on dressing in black; in the very next scene, Marvin's costume change includes him wearing a long sleeve black shirt. To dismiss this as coincidence would suggest that the costume designer Bernie Pollack hadn't read the screenplay. Just what it symbolizes, I dunno, but I feel certain it signifies something about the relationship between the two.

Act III is where the film loses me entirely. I don't care for quickly-escalating absurdities in general, and even Wile E. Coyote would balk at Marvin tying TNT around Bob's neck and leaving him alone in the woods, with a timer telling us that Bob frees himself and walks all the way to the Marvin house, removing the TNT and setting it down inside the house in time to meet the entire family a safe distance away in the backyard just in time for the house to explode. Marvin becoming catatonic and attending the wedding of his sister to Bob, rather than being incarcerated for breaking and entering and attempted murder, completes the film's hyperbolic trajectory over the top.

What About Bob? Re-Ranked on My Flickchart (#721/1690)

What About Bob? > Kronk's New Groove → #721
What About Bob? < Elevator to the Gallows → #721
What About Bob? < Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III → #721
What About Bob? < Doc Hollywood → #740
What About Bob? < Ivan's Childhood → #793
What About Bob? < Rich and Strange → #819
What About Bob? < The Edge → #832
What About Bob? < The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring → #839
What About Bob? < A Christmas Carol (2009) → #842
What About Bob? < Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) → #844
What About Bob? < Jurassic Park III What About Bob? → #845

What About Bob? was re-ranked on my Flickchart to #845/1690