Bob (Bill Murray) has probs. Lots of probs.
They range from issues with germs, lifts, strangers, tight spaces, open spaces and bladder explosions. OK I share that last one with Bob, it sounds nasty.
When he meets psychiatrist Leo Marvin (Richard Dreyfuss) it seems like things are on the up, Leo ‘gets’ Bob, or at least Bob thinks so. So much so that he can’t handle the fact that Leo is heading off for a month long vacation almost immediately after their first meeting went so well and filled Bob full of hope.
Bob can’t wait a month…
So with goldfish Gill in tow – and his other baggage all of the emotional kind – Bob not only locates Leo’s secret holiday destination but manages to track him down, much to Leo’s chagrin.
On the other hand Leo’s family are quite normal in the more traditional screwed up way, kids Sigmund and Anna are pleasant and polite and Leo’s wife Faye is similarly welcoming. They all quickly embrace Bob once they realise that he poses no danger to anyone. In fact Bob generally likes people and is especially eager to please, it is just everything else that causes him stress.
For Leo though Bob is his only phobia. He resents the fact that he so effortlessly endears himself to others, especially his family, and hates the fact that Bob twists his every statement and demand back to a justification to hang around. Bob actually decides to treat himself and Gill to a holiday in the same small town that Leo and the family own a
And with a national TV appearance to promote his new book looming and Bob in close proximity, this can only end badly. (BTW, it doesn’t help that Leo is a bit of a tosser, especially when compared to his loosey-goosey cool family.)
Of course the humour in What About Bob? is largely found in the friction between laissez-faire Bob and uptight and professional Leo. Bill Murray relishes his every supposedly insane tic, comment and gesture, only in reality his phobias and fears are predominantly of the humerous and movie-friendly variety (of course). I’d say he was born to play
this role if it weren’t for the fact that he has perhaps five other roles for which you could say the same thing.
Dreyfuss proves that he is himself an adept comic actor, even as the straight man to Bob’s loon he still manages to upstage Murray on a couple of occasions, especially as his anger levels rise and a role reversal seems imminent.
I loved What About Bob? when I was younger and actually was a little concerned that it wouldn’t be as funny as I remembered. It’s refreshing to find that my fears were baseless.
Final Rating – 7.5 / 10. Don’t panic folks, it remains insanely rewatchable and while it doesn’t boast that one side-splitting scene that might boast it into rarefied air and ‘greatness’, it is most definitely worth checking out.