Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Bob Roberts


This is an interesting movie to watch again in this incredible Age of Trump. Not that Tim Robbins (who wrote, directed, and starred) really resembles the bloviating blowhard with the bad hair. Their styles are very different. Bob is self-effacing, modest, quiet. But it’s the phenomenon of the “outsider,” the man who isn’t a politician and attracts a truly fanatical following.

Bob is a strait-laced, ultra-right-wing “folk” singer. This is a brilliant idea, and Robbins really goes to town with it. All his albums are take-offs on Bob Dylan’s work, such as The Times They Are A Changin’ Back. His songs are all about greedy poor people, the merits of Wall Street, and so forth. It is done as a documentary, and looks totally authentic as the campaign bus (which is also a mobile brokerage, with everyone aboard playing the stock market!) drives up and down the great state of Pennsylvania. Bob is running for the Senate, and giving the incumbent a real race. And the incumbent is … wait for it … Gore Vidal! Who turns out to be a pretty good actor.

There are also appearances by Alan Rickman, David Strathairn, James Spader, Helen Hunt, and Jack Black in his first movie role. We saw Black interviewed by Sam Jones, and he was effusive in his praise of Robbins as a director. He said it was about the happiest, most egalitarian set he ever worked on. This movie is terrific … and these days, a little terrifying.