movieThemes: Alan Rickman
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BOB ROBERTS (1992)

Cast: Tim Robbins, Giancarlo Esposito, Alan Rickman, Ray Wise, Brian Murray, Gore Vidal, James Spader, Susan Sarandon, Peter Gallagher
Director: Tim Robbins
Producers: Forest Murray
Screenplay: Tim Robbins
Cinematography: Jean Lepiré
Music: David Robbins
Approximate Running Time: 103 minutes
Rating:

Category: Drama/Black Comedy/Political Satire

The Plot: Bob Roberts (Tim Robbins) is a minstrel who sings to the hearts of his local constituents as he runs for Senator. Being such an intriguing candidate, a documentary is made of his push for senate. Yet as Roberts gets ever closer to his goal of destroying the current senator, Brickely Paiste (Gore Vidal), he seems to be dogged by scandal as one persistent independent journalist keeps digging up more dirt about his shady backer and partner, Lukas Hart, III (Alan Rickman). As the time to vote looms closer, Roberts finds himself constantly having to stop the documentary from being made.

Comment: Bob Roberts is a clever, tight political satire, captured rather well in the mock documentary scenario. In fact, the documentary style is almost prescient given the predilection of television in the later half of the 1990's to make docu-drama's... The one big grating thing about this film is the singing. Tim Robbins wails away through these Bob Dylan-sounding songs. For this reviewer, Bob Dylan is a singer who should only write and never sing. Other people sing better versions of his songs! In Bob Roberts, the songs are not only terrible, they sound like Bob Dylan is singing them. Very irritating, and for that alone, this movie should only be seen on video so the singing parts can be fast forwarded. Since I did end up fast forwarding, it is a relief to say the film holds up quite well without the singing, and therefore if it is ever to be remade, it should be made without this 'integral' plot twist... (in my dreams!).

Tim Robbins elegantly portrays the corrupt Roberts, who sings and scams his way into the hearts of the voters and the media. He displays just the right amount of smooth-talking sliminess that one associates with politicians. Guest appearances by James Spader, Susan Sarandon and Peter Gallagher as news readers all add a bit of pizzazz to the film.

Some films contain a little gem, a supporting cast member who just makes you anxious for their scenes only as they light up the film. Bob Roberts is one of these films, and Alan Rickman's character, Lukas Hart is that little gem. It is incredibly hard to believe the important businessman with the obligatory stupid, goofy grin and tinted glasses is actually Alan Rickman. It is a testament to Alan Rickman's chameleon-like acting ability that he makes the smallish role of Lukas Hart one of the most interesting things in the entire film.

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