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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 26.8%
Average: 14.43%
Pretty Bad: 5.15%
Total Crap: 8.25%

4 reviews, 73 user ratings

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What About Bob?
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Rob Gonsalves

"Well? What about him?"
4 stars

Almost 25 years later, "What About Bob?" stirs up debate in some quarters: Who is the villain of the movie?

Is it Bob Wiley (Bill Murray), a bottomlessly needy and boundary-disregarding phobic? Or is it Dr. Leo Marvin (Richard Dreyfuss), an arrogant psychoanalyst, publicity hound, and author of a bestselling pop-psych book? From where I sit, they’re both pretty awful, and they make a natural match. Bob is palmed off onto Leo by another shrink, and even when Leo goes on vacation with his family, Bob shows up at the door of their lakeside summer house. Bob gloms onto Leo as his only road out of fear. Leo just wants to be left in peace.

And so begins a classic battle of wills based on how each man relates to the world. Introduced to Leo’s somewhat intimidated family, Bob almost immediately drops most of his neuroses and snuggles into their good graces, befriending Leo’s son (Charlie Korsmo) — unfortunately named Sigmund — in particular. Leo’s wife (Julie Hagerty) and daughter (Kathryn Erbe) likewise love Bob, while Leo fumes in solitary fury. All Leo wants is to be able to prepare for his upcoming interview with Good Morning America; he obsesses about it so much that fans of the film could get a decent drinking game going by slamming a shot every time someone says Good Morning America.

Bob represents a true challenge to a boastful man who prides himself on helping people. For a while, the movie plays like Frasier Meets the Devil, with Murray as the nightmare patient whose depredations nobody but Leo can perceive. But Leo has his own demons, and Bob functions as brute therapy for Leo (and gentler, fun therapy for his family). What About Bob? isn’t perfect; its script is a bit sloppy at times, or perhaps interfered-with at the studio level. For instance, it sends Leo around the bend that Bob seems to have ingratiated himself with Leo’s sister, a character we’ve only seen in a photo before; we are asked to take Leo’s closeness to his sister on faith, but we don’t feel it or see it, which relieves the plot’s final twist of some of its intended sting. And the director, Frank Oz, enjoys his actors but treats them like Muppets, and doesn’t much care about anything else in front of the camera: there’s an exterior shot with a thunderstorm that’s so blatantly faked by a rain machine it’s a little embarrassing.

Still, this is essentially a two-man comedy riff, of the sort we see less and less at the movies, and as much as I love Bill Murray and admired the skittish technique of his performance, it was Richard Dreyfuss — grinning viciously and ironically becoming the Wile E. Coyote that Bob seems at first to be named after — who got more laughs out of me. Partly it’s the fun of seeing a stuffed shirt spattered with mud and finally becoming homicidally insane, but partly it’s the palpable glee Dreyfuss takes in his middle-period second career as a cartoonish farceur. By both men’s accounts, there was no love lost between Murray and Dreyfuss on the set, and this sharpens Leo’s rage, gives it roots in something real.

This is not to ignore Murray, whose Bob begins as exasperating but develops into something more complicated and mysterious, and perhaps darker. Does Bob only wedge himself into Leo’s family as a way to punish Leo for rejecting him? How much of what Bob says or does is well-meant as opposed to passive-aggressive and only incidentally therapeutic? Murray kind of keeps it ambiguous, at least as much as a mainstream comedy (with a terrible generic-comedy music score by Miles Goodman) will allow, while Dreyfuss certainly plays it as though he considered Leo the hero. It could very well be that the Dude’s words to Walter in The Big Lebowski apply equally to Leo: “You’re not wrong, Walter, you’re just an asshole.”

Leo thinks Bob is a monster and a pain and potentially dangerous, and maybe he’s not wrong, but…

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originally posted: 12/03/15 05:36:54
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User Comments

10/02/20 Carl Spandau 5 stars
2/11/18 Carl Sorry, this movie does have a plot that even Bob's fish is likely able to follow. decent. 3 stars
4/27/16 Ken Very hilarious! Murray and Dreyfuss are great! 5 stars
8/08/14 Betty sooo contrived, and all the more hilarious for it =] 5 stars
2/25/14 Terry Unfunny and painful to watch 1 stars
11/01/13 Dane Youssef Wonderful family comedy. For every family. Everyone should see it at least twice. Timeless. 4 stars
12/10/10 the dork knight Dark comedy. I hate everybody in this movie, so it's a chore to sit through. 3 stars
11/21/10 Alaska/Yukon August, 2010 II mediocre one-act movie, more tedious than amusing 3 stars
6/21/10 Sarah Comedy doesn't come any better than this. A classic film. 5 stars
12/10/09 Phil M. Afficiando LIke most "one joke" films, this goes off the tracks as it gets more ridiiculous. 3 stars
5/11/09 Deputy Dawg This reviewer must have a drinking problem. This is a 5-star, intelligent, funny comedy. 5 stars
3/03/08 ladavies one of Bill's best movies, very charming 4 stars
2/18/08 Pamela White Bill makes a great Bob very funny 5 stars
10/19/07 Jim H One of the funniest movies of all time. 5 stars
9/27/07 jim The repeated satirical yet imbalanced torment of Dreyfuss was more painful than funny. 3 stars
3/28/07 Chad This critic is not worth the time it takes to read his first sentence. Great movie. 5 stars
2/23/07 David Pollastrini Not great not terrible 3 stars
1/02/07 Brad Bourland Richard Dreyfuss is brilliant, slowly becoming the REAL lunatic in this movie. 4 stars
11/07/06 mbmb This is one of my all time favorite movies. I almost know it by heart!!! 5 stars
10/03/06 Jeremy Davies absolutely insane. I laughed my ass off 5 stars
9/14/06 Josh Racine One of the funniest movies ever. 5 stars
9/12/06 Eden I agree with tatum - Murray was just really annoying, and the film wasnt funny 2 stars
4/16/06 teen i am a teen and i get, so Bruce just because your an adult doesnt mean you know everything 5 stars
1/10/06 Anastasia Beaverhausen AMAZING! Murray & Dreyfuss are hilarious. It's one of my all time favorite movies! 5 stars
11/19/05 cunt i love the smell of vagina 5 stars
8/26/05 EZ THE FUNNIEST MOVIE EVER MADE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
8/04/05 Monsieur malaking tulong to sa paper ko NEW ERA PSYCHS STUDENTS HELLO 5 stars
8/01/05 rich ann genove azteeg!!! 4 stars
7/24/05 Dwight T. Gregory Great story! 5 stars
4/19/05 tatum I found Murray as irritating as Dreyfuss did 2 stars
1/03/05 Geo78665 Starts off contrived as hell, but settles down, and becomes a hilarious comedy. 4 stars
11/16/04 Bruce Bethany For adults hilarious, brilliant. Teens won't get it. 5 stars
10/17/04 Miles Morley My Favorite Show. Bill Murray your an animal. 5 stars
9/04/04 T.B. He make me laugh 4 stars
7/21/04 Harry J I really feel sorry for anyone that doesn't enjoy this excellent comedy. 5 stars
6/22/04 Rock Hound I tried so very hard not to laugh, and failed miserably. 4 stars
5/31/04 Nobody Funny Funny Funny! Murray and Dreyfuss are great! 5 stars
3/24/04 Lord Haw Haw Howlingly funny. The Today show interview is classic. 5 stars
3/19/04 john comedys are easy to gauge - if you laugh a lot it's good - I did! 4 stars
1/03/04 A F Bill Murray is basically infalliable. 5 stars
12/01/03 Tara Funny and Brilliant 4 stars
11/04/03 Kurt Great movie. 4 stars
10/24/03 Wendy Carpenter Fairly watchable, but ending flat. Good seeing the vastly underrated Julie Hagerty. 4 stars
9/26/03 Alan Murray and Dreyfuss make a great team. 5 stars
9/01/03 Jack Sommersby Murray is saving grace of this forced, mostly unfunny debacle. 2 stars
8/19/03 Dark Barn I don't know anyone in real life who dislikes this movie. 5 stars
6/22/03 cochese Who the hell these people write reviews for this website?? Its a COMEDY, lighten up. 4 stars
5/15/03 Tom Fleeman Murray and Dreyfuss are awesome in this flick. Murray even annoyed me! Great Flick!! 5 stars
5/12/03 Jack Bourbon Pretty funny. 4 stars
1/02/03 Justin This movie's good, this movie's great, this movie's wonderful. 5 stars
12/20/02 AshFan What about Bob? IT'S A GREAT MOVIE!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
12/20/02 rick horrible. stereotypical, un commical. A pain to sit through. Bob must DIE!!! 1 stars
12/19/02 rotten s. milk Bill Murray is hilarious! 5 stars
9/07/02 Agglepraxis Verry little to laugh at-and even with a promising premise. 2 stars
8/30/02 Ted Walker Funniest movie I've ever seen. 5 stars
7/01/02 R.W. Welch Essentially a one joke comedy, rather uninspired. 3 stars
4/10/02 The Grinch GREAT movie... worth watching again. 5 stars
2/23/02 Mark Lloyd Bill Murray and Rich Dreyfuss are wonderful together. I love this movie 5 stars
1/27/02 Lin Rainey I love this movie. I think Murray and Dreyfuss are great together. Good fun. 4 stars
1/13/02 Andrew Carden I Do Like Dreyfusse's Work, and Sometimes Murray's Also, but This Didn't Click. 2 stars
8/12/01 Don An ALL TIME favorite!!!!!!!! 5 stars
8/10/01 E-Funk Funny. Dreyfuss and Murray work well off of each other...i think Murray's slump followed... 5 stars
8/07/01 Mr. Hat (formerly Joe Zappa) One of the greatest, funniest, most thought-out comedies in history. 5 stars
2/10/01 Golbez Dreyfus was excellent as always, Murray put great humor 4 stars
11/23/00 Connoisseur GOOD MOVIE, but Bill Murray is no god! 4 stars
11/15/00 salvo toscano don't be snob. This film is fucking funny! 5 stars
7/06/99 jeff bill murray is god 5 stars
6/10/99 Homer J. Simpson One of the funniest and fun movies ever made,I actly laughed at a comedy 4 stars
4/15/99 Jon Jackson great movie, Bill Murray is a riot. 5 stars
1/25/99 Chloe Marie Elestenogoph ( I like it! Yeee! "Why are you always in black?" "I'm mourning the death of my childhood." 4 stars
10/28/98 Silent Rob While not a fave of mine, I find I will always stick with it, if it's on. 4 stars
9/05/98 Badass Funny flick. Murray and Dreyfuss are great. "Baby steps to the..." 4 stars
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  17-May-1991 (PG)



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