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Bob Roberts [VHS] [1992]
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A documentary filmmaker follows the campaign of folk singer-turned-senatorial candidate Bob Roberts (Tim Robbins). Roberts is ultra-conservative, espousing a return to pre-hippie values and saying it's okay to be rich and successful. Roberts' crazed fans idolize the flag-waving Bible-thumper and there's only one man who casts aspersions on him: Small-time journalist Bugs Raplin (Giancarlo Esposito) claims he has evidence Roberts is involved with shading dealings, and Roberts' handlers don't like that one bit.

Tim Robbins wrote and directed this mockumentary, filmed in shaky-cam. It races from one campaign scene to another, painting a picture of a wholesome, inspired candidate who is above reproach - but if you know Robbins, you know it's all done sarcastically and, in fact, shows Roberts to be a slick, prepackaged, underhanded sneak at best, and a law-breaking criminal at worst.

This film makes right-wing politicos out to be nasty and even dangerous hypocrites, so how much you'll like it depends pretty much on your own political slant. For me, it was okay, frantic, exhausting, slyly funny and perceptive at times and heavy-handed at others. Bottom line: It's a good movie to watch during this election year.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 10 February 2006
A small gem of a film, deservedly re-released 13 years after its original debut.

Tim Robbins performance as the smoothly amoral Roberts is unsurprisingly excellent, sharing the steely reptilian qualities that made the Players Griffin Mill so memorable. What's more surprising is that his directorial debut is so deftly handled, as a thin plot is obscured by the films pace and narrative drive.

A number of cameos from famous faces newscasting are trumped by the performance of resident polymath Gore Vidal as the incumbent congressman opposing Roberts, offering a counterpoint of genuine morality to the twisted values Roberts represents.

Intelligent, without being quite as clever as it thinks it is, the film ultimately can't decide if it's a morality play or a satire, and as such doesn't ultimately succeed, though it's a very worthy effort. Robbins can reflect that his first stab behind the camera has the look of Robert Altmans work (without threatening the heights achieved by Short Cuts or The Player) and that's not a bad place to start.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 1 September 2008
Anyone who understands the power of the media understands the power of those who govern it's direction. Bob Roberts is a fictional representation of a Philadelphian politician, and although being fictional it successfully represents politics and how they are manipulated by corrupt politicians in an unbalanced and confused society.

This film may be over fifteen years old, but it's not about politics in the era of which this film is made. The structure pre-dates this movie, and although the events may change over the years the structure remains the same; even today. Bob's campaign tactics resemble that of media highlighted politicians in our world, and the resemblance is clear: what the film offers is a 'behind-the-scenes' look at why. It explains to the audience why this 'type' of politician gains such vast appreciation, and how this enables the people above him the control they desire and for what purpose. It's arguable that this film is the greatest political film ever made.

I would personally recommend this film to anyone who is developing their knowledge of politics and how they work, or to anyone who feels the 'system is flawed' (i.e. capitalism). For anyone who loves and supports George W. i would advise you to watch it anyway, because hopefully it stirs a few unwanted emotions back into their rightful place. Just don't forget to analyse the agenda of Tim Robbins in making this film, even if i personally agree in full with him (i say that for all you impressionable types).
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
#1 HALL OF FAMEon 19 January 2003
Bob Roberts is, I suppose, the equivalent of This is Spinal Tap in terms of US politics- though I thought Warren Beatty's Bulworth (1999) was funnier & more engaging. This film is not quite as funny as it thinks it is, and broadly buys into the notion of democrats good/republicans bad- when Bulworth & books like Stupid White Men show the 'opposition' is just as corrupted.
This is a very interesting film in terms of politics, touching on many pertinent elements- the notion in Western 'free-market' politics that anything goes. That this real-capital has merged with political aspiration (does the notion that anyone can become the US President really hold true?)- that the spin and manipulation of the media is all that is required. If they look & sound like they're answering your questions, well- how can you complain? So, in terms of the manner in which polticians approach their work , utilising corporate & marketing philosophies, this is a cutting work (and will be familiar to those who've gazed at the horror that is New Labour, as dictated by Alistair Campbell in the UK).
Nice to see 'real images' cut into proceedings- we see Bush Snr & Sadaam- who is linked to an interesting diatribe on US foreign policy delivered by Gore Vidal- which ought to be seen by anyone advocating another Gulf War. We even get buzzwords such as "the smoking gun" (surely the one that the NRA hold?) & John Cusack is great as a sell-out comedian on a Saturday Night Live programme- where he mentions US investment in Weapons of Mass Destruction. There is an implicated sex-scandal featuring Roberts' opponent- which almost predicts the Starr-related farago (really, is one adult having sexual relations with another on a level with Watergate, Iran-Contra or being arrested three times- as is the case with the current President "elect"?).
The manner in which the media have become compliant with polticians is also pertinent, not far from the exaggerated imagery of Natural Born Killers (one scene on the comedy programme reminds me of Network also). Robbins is excellent as Roberts- an Al Gore type who appears to have rebelled against 60's radicalism; but uses the style of Dylan/Ochs/protest singer in an inverted manner recalling drivel like One Nation in Australia. Roberts is as deluded over his past as Tom Cruise's character in Magnolia or Jeffrey Archer in the recent BBC-TV fantasy biopic.
The cast are excellent- particularly Fred Ward, Susan Sarandon, Gore Vidal, Ray Wise & John Cusack- and Tenancious D fans will be pleased to see an early appearance from Jack Black as a Roberts fan. I think some of the songs are very good- though the Subterranean Homesick Blues-style rap video was more CB4/Fear of a Black Hat than The Rutles or This is Spinal Tap.
Bob Roberts paints a bleak portrait of US politics at the start of the 90's, while Bulworth does the same at the end of the millennium. In both we see a No Logo/Silent Takeover/Captive State/Stupid White Men notion of corporate perversion of poltical life; who says Americans don't do irony or satire?
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on 16 July 2009
Great film, very cynical and clever. Catchy music helps the heavier moments inevitable with a political content. I am not at all politically minded and enjoyed having the worst of the "dirty washing" of an American election waved in public!
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on 25 March 2013
really enjoyed this. its take on the amercan election process was both facinating and disturbing. wonder what Mr Dylan thought of it?
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 23 March 2003
I though this was a great film when I first saw it eleven years ago. I had forgotten all about it until I saw it again this week.
Brilliant acting, great satire, wonderful soundtrack, and a truly frightening and depressing view of America.
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I just love this film. I mean really, really like it.

Why . . . watch it and you will see.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 24 December 2009
This should be a classic but it's probably too intelligent for the mass market. I imagine crowds of cinemagoers at the time probably thinking "I don't get it, is this a documentary about a real person".
The music alone makes this film/spoof Doc superb.

With music and script by the lead actor Robbins, a folk singing presidential candidate, the entire documentary is a moving, terrifyingly honest look at the American Political Machine'.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 7 December 2000
I don't know how many times I've seen Bob Roberts. It is quite simply a fantastic movie. The first half is admittedly better than the second and despite everything the soundtrack might be the best part of the movie. I'm not a country fan but the lyrics really are quite something. A fantastic movie for political buffs.
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