5.29.2014

FIVE THOUGHTS CONCERNING WHAT ABOUT BOB?

1. We were on a medium-sized road trip* recently, and a conversation sprung up about our favourite funniest films. I brought up the Bill Murray/Richard Dreyfuss classic What About Bob? The children peppered me with questions, having not seen it, and twenty minutes later I had somehow explained the entire plot, with a short foray into what it is that psychiatrists do; an explanation that would likely not sit well with Mr. Thomas Cruise.

2. Upon returning home, I discovered that we still had a copy of the film. On VHS. Somehow, it escaped getting thrown out with the Spring cleaning this year.**

3. The first time I remember seeing it was with my oldest friend, Matt, on a Sunday morning. I thought it was hilarious then, but on every subsequent viewing it has only gotten better. One of the only other films immediately coming to mind that has gotten better with repeat viewings is Silence of the Lambs which, in my opinion, is not as funny as What About Bob.

3b. ONE OF MY FAVOURITE EXCHANGES IN CINEMATIC HISTORY (thank you, Jen, for the reminder  )

"But you said in your office I could call you Leo."

- "That was my office. In my home, I'd like you to call me Dr. Marvin."

4. At the supper table, the children ganged up on me, which is frequent, and my daughter started giggling away and suggested to all that "...we should start calling Daddy 'Bob Wiley.'"

It was pretty funny, so I had to take a break from loudly savoring my food to laugh. A little. But Bob did help affirm an important lesson to us all: let people know, enthusiastically, when they've done something you appreciate.

4b. Bob is the protagonist...but it is easy to forget that despite how lovable he is by the middle of the film, he is still basically a weird creepo guy - I do not use that description prolifically or casually - with a bunch of issues who has lied his way into stalking his psychiatrist's FAMILY on their holiday. This film isn't that far from Cape Fear, or a hundred other psycho killer films, as far as initial setup goes. And it wouldn't have taken a whole lot in the first 20 minutes to turn a light comedy into something much darker.

(for example: One Hour Photo with Robin Williams. Incidentally, Mr. Williams was in early conversations to play Dr. Marvin, as was Woody Allen.)

I'm glad they went in the direction they did with it. I can definitely sympathize with Dr. Marvin a bit as he watches his family fall in love with his patient. It's his supreme condescension, arrogance and anger that really helps cement our empathy/sympathy for Bob.

5. I'm glad they didn't go with "What About Robert?" I just don't think I could have taken it as seriously.

5b. I'm a strong proponent of the field of counseling. I'm always intrigued by the relationships, commonalities, approaches, and overlaps among psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, and therapists. As somebody who values semantics, semiotics, and use of language, I tend to inwardly roll my eyes (yes: latent contempt; sorry) when I hear the notion of "counseling" tossed around casually, like it's a skill that can just be casually picked up, or a gift that somebody who gives really good advice has...INSTEAD of a profession, complete with licensing, education, oversight, and confidentiality protocols. Unfairly, I have used it first as a verb (counseled, counseling) versus a noun (a counselor, i.e. therapist in this context). But the point remains that I have heard so many times the idea of people in various other professions implying or referring to the idea of counseling as an additional skill you just sort of...integrate into your current profession, as opposed to a stand-alone field with its own set of stringent professional qualifications and responsibilities, not least of which is, AGAIN, that idea of patient confidentiality. Did I just use a 1991 Frank Oz film as a vehicle to make a very unsubtle statement about something I have strong feelings about, in large part because I have a mother and brother who work in the field? Why...yes I did.

2b. I also told the children the story of The Goonies. I cannot wait to watch it with them...someday. In the meantime, I've just pulled up the movie poster on Google, and we look longingly at it and they pepper me with questions about Chunk. So good.

2c. SAVE THE DATE: July 2, 2016. Spielberg's interpretation of Roald Dahl's The BFG hits theatres. Can. Not. Wait. My expectations are high.

Have a great Friday, and don't forget to double-feature Bob and Ghostbusters this weekend.


*four hours
**and the last fifteen years

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