johnlink ranks WHAT ABOUT BOB? (1991)

Here is yet another movie I know very well from multiple viewings as a kid. I haven’t seen this in a decade or so, and it is always nice to revisit a movie which was squarely in the center of Bill Murray’s wheelhouse. You really can’t go wrong when Murray is at his best.


I watched WHAT ABOUT BOB? (1991) on 2.18.13. It was probably my twentieth viewing of the film, and first since the 90s.

I feel like I don’t need to recap the plot, because this is a movie which was ever-present in the psyche of comedy fans in the 90s. However, it is now (amazingly) 22 years old. I suppose it may have fallen out of public consciousness.

Bob (Bill Murray) is a bit of a headcase. He burns through psychiatrists with regularity. At the beginning of this film he meets a successful author named Dr. Leo Marvin (Richard Dreyfuss) who agrees to take him on as a patient. Dr. Marvin then brings his family to Lake Winnipesaukee for vacation, and Bob follows him there. He works his way into the family’s life. Dr. Marvin and Bob become rivals, with Marvin increasingly feeling as though Bob is infiltrating his family and attempting to usurp him. Bob is completely unaware of this, instead thinking it is all just therapy.

What works about this movie is the way the two leads switch roles as the film progresses. Increasingly, Bob is able to talk to Marvin’s family and get through in a way the good Doctor seems unable to. It is Bob who ultimately gets the son, Siggy, to dive after unsuccessful (and stressful) teaching attempts by Marvin. Continually, Dr. Marvin becomes more and more unhinged, and more and more desperate to be rid of Bob. It can be said, maybe, that the film goes a little too far in that direction for its climax. But, hey, its a comedy and that is what comedies do.

And this really is a wonderfully paced and expertly crafted comedy. WHAT ABOUT BOB? is directed by Yoda (Frank Oz to be professional), who has given us a wide range of gems from the director’s chair including IN & OUT, THE SCORE, and DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS. The timing in this movie is really spot on. It’s one of those 100 minute movies which feels like 45 minutes and leaves you wanting more of all the characters involved.

There are so many favorite bits from this, but I have to say that there is pure comic gold in the 20 minutes or so from the time Bob helps Ziggy dive, through the overnight stay, and into the next morning’s Good Morning America interview. The comedy builds exponentially, and Murray just kills scene after scene. It’s a perfect section of comedy.

I really enjoy this movie. Perhaps it is not as revelatory as CADDYSHACK, GHOST BUSTERS, or GROUNDHOG DAY, but it certainly deserves to be in the conversation with those movies.






~ by johnlink00 on February 19, 2013.

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