Bob Roberts Movie Poster Image

Bob Roberts



A political horror story for teens and adults.
  • Review Date: October 17, 2006
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1992
  • Running Time: 102 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Bob deceives the public to win the election; others kill a man because they suspect he shot Bob.


Bob Roberts is shot; another character is killed off-screen.

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Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some drinking during the victory celebration; one woman appears to get in her car drunk.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Bob Roberts fakes an assassination attempt, manipulates the media, and cultivates a gang of the disaffected who eventually kill a journalist. Bob also sings about stringing drug users up by the highest tree, preaches self-interest, and fosters anti-immigrant, anti-feminist, and anti-minority sentiment among his devoted followers ... all in the name of satire, of course.

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What's the story?

What would happen if a fascist leader -- the kind with a funny mustache and a taste for genocide -- came back as Bob Dylan? That's the question Tim Robbins asks and answers icily in BOB ROBERTS. Robbins wrote, directed, and stars as the eponymous, clean-cut and charismatic folk singer who soothingly sings of "taking my inheritance and investing it with pride" and urges his followers to take crack users and "string 'em up from the highest tree." He sings about welfare cheats and lazy, complaining liberals and attracts acolytes in the form of angry, young, rich, white boys. But can Roberts, who was raised on a commune and later forged a check to pay for college, evade criminal charges (that he's stolen affordable housing money to pay for drug-smuggling planes) long enough to win the election? Will his charisma hold out?

Is it any good?


As in Wag the Dog, the answer is a foregone conclusion; but unlike that other '90s-era political satire, Bob Roberts is as humorless as a heart attack. Robbins doesn't make any attempt to get viewers comfortable with Roberts, and, in fact, invites derision. "Bob Roberts is Nixon, but he's shrewder, more complicated," says a skeptical newscaster, one of many such heavy-handed speeches in the film. "Here's a man who adopted the persona and mindset of a free-thinking rebel and turned it on itself: The rebel conservative. That's deviant brilliance. What a Machiavellian master."

Like most dystopian tales (1984 and Brave New World come to mind), Bob Roberts carries its premise to the most extreme conclusion. So here, African American men lose their lives, and the public is tricked into electing Roberts without ever hearing how he would govern. We already know the answer when that same newscaster asks, "Are we to believe that what Bob Roberts wants to see in America is a compliant and silent public which respects the wishes and actions of its presidents no matter how immoral or illegal?"

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how they consume both political media and how they react to political candidates. Where do they get their news? Do they trust it? Do they look for alternative forms of media? What kind of political candidate are they attracted to? Do they notice when their fears are stirred by politicians? Are they savvy citizens as well as savvy media consumers? Do you think you could become enthralled with a politician?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 17, 1992
DVD release date:August 14, 2001
Cast:Alan Rickman, Brian Murray, Tim Robbins
Director:Tim Robbins
Run time:102 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:violence, thematic intensity.

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Teen, 14 years old Written byZuriepope January 29, 2016

Despite not having a lot of violence or gore it is just as scary as any horror film

This is one of the best mocumentarys/pieces of political commentary i have ever watched.It does not viciously attack conservatives or liberals but rather tells the story of how fascism can rise anywhere on Earth.if the leader is charismatic enough and the people scared and paranoid enough.Bob himself is a manipulative,power hungry opportunist who leads of flock of misguided and scared young men and women who praise him as though he were a god,forming his own cult of personality.Bob preaches a rhetoric based around racial bigotry and outright,self centered greed and sings about in this film stringing up drug users and sellers from the nearest tree,and describes the 60s due to it being era of large amounts of racial and female advancement as though it were one of the most horrific times in mankind's history. I think something can be said of that.The era of love and peace had ended when this movie came out.The hippies had disappeared and been replaced by yuppies.It was the age of greed is good,were being as vicious and cutthroat as possible almost to he point of sociopathy was rewarded instead of shunned.This was the perfect time for a man like Bob to come to power.Also this film also shows how dictators often mask their horrific policies as patriotism.Bob sings about pro-greed anti-immigrant,anti-feminist and anti-minority values all with a chipper and cheery air and all while being wrapped in the American flag.Literally shown on the cover/poster.Possibly this is a reference to Sinclair Lewis when he said "When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross".This idea is also shown with Bobs campaign manager a shadowy,shady character with connections to drug traffickers and the CIA.he represents how leaders can get away with the worst of things if they sing the praises of their nation.Bob's voters are just as bad.They are shown as paranoid when not outright violent even killing the reporter trying to stop them,with this being the mentality of most brainwashed members of a totalitarian/authoritarian government.No one speaks ill of the great leader.The most potent scene is the ending one were the supposedly insane journalist trying to expose him is murdered.And people CHEER for his death.In the end Bob wins the Senate seat and the faith of the nation is sealed.However the overall message felt as though it was this "don't let it happen,it depends on you".Don't sit idly by while evil men takeover the nation.Overall a truly fantastic film.


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