|What About Bob?|
|Written by Tara O'Shea|
|Monday, 10 July 2000|
Bob Wiley (Bill Murray) is neurotic. His only friend is a goldfish named Gill. He's afraid of elevators, being outdoors, being indoors, being alone, being with people, riding the bus, Tourette's Syndrome, and his heart stopping. He's cloying, dependent, needy and mostly useless. Pop psychologist Dr. Leo Marvin (Richard Dreyfuss) has the perfect life. His practice is booming, his new book "Baby Steps" is destined to become a bestseller, and he's about to leave for a relaxing family vacation at his sumptuous summer home, where he will be interviewed live on "Good Morning America."
When Bob's psychiatrist pawns him off on Leo, Bob's life takes a turn for the better, while Leo's begins to spiral out of control. Bob follows the good doctor to Lake Winnipesaukee, and Aided by vengeful neighbors the Guttmans, he proceeds to invade Leo's family. Bob befriends Leo’s young son Siggy and teenage daughter Anna, who feel alienated from their father, who treats them as trophies rather than children. By the time the TV crew arrives, Leo is a complete wreck, while Bob has gleefully started to escape the self-made cage of real and imagined psychoses. The sailing scene and Bob's nighttime discussions with Siggy, in particular, stand out.
Chock full of hilarious comic antics, "What About Bob?" does, however, quickly descend into pat set-ups and cheap jokes which work mainly due to the talented cast and Frank Oz's direction. Murray shines as Bob, a role tailored to his combination of physical comedy and low-key acting, while straight man Dreyfuss becomes increasingly irascible and by the film's giddy and explosive climax, emerges crazier than Bob ever was. The ending is farcical, but in keeping with the rest of the picture. The supporting cast are there to play off Murray and Dreyfuss, and contain no real stand-out performances, although fans of Julie Hagerty's turns in the "Airplane!" films will recognize her once again as the sweet and generally oblivious wife/girlfriend.
Touchstone's DVD release is disappointingly thin in terms of extras, which are nonexistent, with the exception of the standard inclusion of the theatrical trailer. The visuals are good and the picture crisp and clean. However, the print does have some scratches and noticeable flaws. At times, the colors are either muted or over-saturated. Sound mix is good and fairly simple, as the movie is primarily dialogue-driven (hence the DVD release in 2.0). Miles Goodman's score is lively and supports the tone of the film, but doesn't break any ground musically. The DVD menus are simple and easy to navigate, but lackluster and uninspired, much like the entire release.
Overall, this popular Disney comedy deserves a better presentation, but it makes a good addition to a family's film library, or a pleasant evening's rental.