Murray of the monthPosted: June 1, 2011
What About Bob? (1991) isn’t like any other Bill Murray film. It’s the only Bill Murray film that I’ve ever hated. And more alarmingly, the reason why I hated it so much was Bill Murray’s character in it. This is the film that was responsible for putting me off Bill Murray films for a long time.
So it’s understandable why I was dreading to watch it again. I have only ever watched the whole thing once before and any attempts after that have failed miserably. If the other leading man in a film is Richard Dreyfuss and you end up sympathising with his character, I think it’s safe to say something has gone horribly wrong. Very horribly wrong.
Now that I have actually managed to watch it again, I can see why it infuriated me to the point of hating. The way the Marvin family members apart from Dr. Leo Martin get attached to Bob so quickly is hardly justifiable, even if it is just a plot device where Bob is somehow turned into an alternative father figure and the tables of sane and insane are turned and supposed hilarity ensues. When asked why they like him so much, the answer is that he’s “fun”. So to them he is not actually a psychiatric patient but more like an entertaining family friend that they’ve known for 2 days. Totally makes sense. Everything that Dr. Martin does to get rid of Bob just brings him closer to his family. It is never made quite clear whether Bob really is an obsessive compulsive or if any of his other phobias and behavioural issues are real or imagined. Dr. Martin certainly seems to think that he is more of a manipulative sociopathic narcissist if anything.
But somehow, my hatred for the film has subdued. I no longer dislike Bob as much as I dislike the entire Martin family. And poor plot devices and disregard for credibility. Which is where I suspect my annoyance with the film really came from. And yes, it’s a black /screwball comedy and not everything has to make sense. But Bill Murray is still fantastic and all is as it should be.