Bob the Butler (2005) / Comedy
MPAA Rated: Not rated, but probably PG for some innuendo and crude humor
Running Time: 85 min.
Cast: Tom Green, Brooke Shields, Benjamin B. Smith, Genevieve Buechner, Rob LaBelle, Simon Callow, Valerie Tian
Director: Gary Sinyor
Screenplay: Steven Manners, Jane Walker Wood
Review published September 26, 2005
Mrs. Doubtfire meets Uncle Buck for Tom Green (Stealing Harvard, Road Trip) fans, I guess, although it seems doubtful that those that have come to know and love Green's perverted brand of humor will find anything within the running length of Bob the Butler to remind them of the outrageous Tom of old. That's not to say that Green is unlikable here, as he does exude a goofy and harmless quality that makes his character something a little different than the norm. However, Green just doesn't have the talent or screen presence to carry this formulaic film into anything truly special, and without laughs in the script or chemistry in the romance, Bob the Butler does succeed in softening Green's image, but hardly anyone will really care at this point in his vanishing career.
Green plays Bob Tree, a thirty-something guy that has yet to be able to hold down a job for very long. He's tried just about everything and still hasn't found his niche. His latest idea is to become a butler, taking a course in the do's and don'ts on being a servant. He manages to land his first gig in the house of a desperate wealthy single mother, Anne (Shields, The Blue Lagoon), who has yet to find someone to look after her two bratty children without running off the first day. Surprise of surprises for Anne, the kids actually like Bob, mostly because he is such a pushover that he allows them to do whatever they want. However, as Bob progresses, he comes to care for the family, seeing them more than just another job, but in so doing, he tries to help them, but Anne isn't looking for a father. Bob is supposed to be a butler only, but he has trouble keeping his place.
Filmed in Canada for a very modest budget, Bob the Butler was intended as a theatrical release, but eventually wound up as an unlikely choice to debut on the Disney Channel as an original movie. I say unlikely because there is an occasional joke or two aimed at adults thrown in ("Nice melons", Green says in the produce section while a busty mother thanks him for the compliment), while other scenes seem edited for content, such as when the instructor at the Butler school strips down to his underwear. However, it is still obvious that this is a film aimed at families, and like most of its ilk, your mileage will vary depending on the age of the children watching and your own predisposition to broad comedic fare.
Obviously, this is a vehicle that is intended to make Green more palatable to mainstream audiences, although it is perhaps too little, too late to save his film career. Ironically, for a film about a man that is constantly changing his occupation because he doesn't really know how to do anything well enough to do as a career, Green clearly shows here that his niche isn't going to be in family entertainment. Hope you kept your day job, Tom.
©2005 Vince Leo