Who The Hell Is Bobby Roos?

on October 01, 2004 by Jeff Schwager
Bobby Roos, the title character of this inventive and compelling movie, is a comedian who specializes in impressions, and therein lies his problem. On stage, he seems to be taken over by his subjects, who include John Travolta, Robin Williams, Richard Dreyfuss and (especially) Robert De Niro. But offstage he has more and more trouble getting out of character, which makes it impossible for him to relate to other people as himself. At one point, he becomes so desperate to make human contact that he puts on his De Niro mole and goes out on the prowl. When the strategy works, he spends a tender night with Emily, a lovely young De Niro fan, only to scare her off the next morning when he slips into his Robin Williams (whom she loathes).

This sounds like the sort of premise someone from the cast of Saturday Night Live might have tried--it's easy to imagine Billy Crystal or Dana Carvey in a slapstick version of this same story. But what's impressive about Bobby Roos is that it's not slapstick; except when Bobby's on stage, it's not even very funny. Shot on digital video and improvised on camera, the movie is a daring tour de force for director John Feldman and actor Roger Kabler (who previously worked together on the low-budget thriller “Alligator Eyes”). It borrows liberally from Kabler's real experiences as an impressionist, even working in clips of his actual appearances on talk shows while out promoting his short-lived sitcom "Rhythm and Blues."

The rest of the cast--including Iris Paldiel as Emily, and Kabler's father, Mel, who plays Bobby's father in a moving scene--also do fine work, but this is Kabler's show, and he makes the most of it. “Who the Hell is Bobby Roos?” is the sort of project that justifies the digital video revolution: It would benefit from the immediacy of videoeven if it wasn't too idiosyncratic for mainstream Hollywood backing. Starring Roger Kabler, Annabelle Larson and Iris Paldiel. Directed by John Feldman. Produced by John Feldman and Roger Kabler. No distributor set. Drama/Comedy. Not yet rated. Running time: 93 min.

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