From time to time I receive family-oriented and faith-friendly movies to review on this blog from a Christian marketing company. I have done a terrible job of writing reviews, so I’m attempting to catch up.
Today, I saw Bringing Up Bobby, a comedy about a weird family twelve years after their parents death. The four kids are James, Andrea, Dennis, and Bobby. James and has served as both big brother and surrogate parent for the last dozen years and he’s ready to start a relationship. Andrea is greedy, and a controlling wife to her husband Walter. Dennis (or “The Dennis” as he so fondly calls himself) is a deranged, eccentric (and funny) cocaine addict who wants to keep his distance from “the anarchists.” Bobby, the youngest, is a Gothic 16 year old searching for an identity.
James and Bobby live together in their deceased parents’ house. Andrea and Dennis both come to town because on Bobby’s 16th birthday their parent’s will finally goes into effect. While all the kids are cleaning up the house, James finds an enormous stash of cash in the attic. James doesn’t tell anyone about the money and he hides it in a garbage bag. Greed has long been dividing the family when a new (highly powered) attic fan blows the money out of the bag, down the steps in front of everyone, staring a huge family fight. As it turns out, the parents’ will splits everything evenly, and even the house must be sold.
James and Bobby both have love interests. James falls for Andrea’s attractive lawyer, Terry, and Bobby is willing to change everything — even his wardrobe — for Liz, the new girl in school. Some of those interactions are classically awkward and make me glad I’m no longer looking to date. James also wants Bobby to take God seriously. They have many conversations about life and spiritually. At one point, Bobby notices some glaring mistakes in James’ life and he says, “You should be the last person to tell me about Jesus.” James replies, “If I didn’t make mistakes, I wouldn’t need a Savior. That’s why I’m the perfect person to tell you about Jesus.”
As James, Bobby, Andrea, and Dennis sit at the table with the lawyer and a judge to figure out what to do with their parents’ will, Bobby reads a note from his friend Eric. Eric’s mom is an alcoholic and almost daily, Eric needs to pick up his drunk mom from the bar and put her to bed. Eric calls child services to be picked up and placed in foster care. He leaves a note with Liz to give to Bobby. When Bobby reads the note, he realizes that money and stuff is not what life’s about. It’s about people and sacrifice and love. He and James quickly run to Eric’s home just as he is about to leave with the social worker. James offers to be considered as Eric’s foster placement.
The movie ends with James searching through the shed at home, which he alone received as part of the will. Evidently no one had entered the shed in a very long time, because as James and Terry search through the rubble, they find dozens and dozens of fifty and one hundred dollar bills stashed away.
Bringing Up Bobby was explicitly Christian: within the first five minutes, the words “Jesus Christ” had been spoken — and not in a vain way. I don’t have a problem with that at all; more power to the directors. There are two theological issues I have with the film. First, James told Bobby that “life is not about being happy.” My wife pointed out that he was probably saying, “Life is not about being happy in the way the world thinks of happiness.” That may be true, but it wasn’t explained that way. Life is about being happy — the happiest we can be in God. Secondly, the big cash stash in the shed at the end seems to communicate that, in the end, God will repay us for our efforts. Of course, that isn’t true. He owes us nothing. Sometimes, most times, our story doesn’t end happily-ever-after here on earth. We can be sure that once in heaven the story will be happy because our treasure will be with Jesus.
The movie is definitely “low budget”: The video and audio quality is low, over-acting is common, and there are the run-of-the-mill Christian cliches. Finally, it was unmistakable a “Christian” directed film, which is its greatest downfall. Considering that God calls his people to do work well and with excellence, it is unfortunate that another Christian film falls short on quality and skill. Bringing Up Bobby is a good story in theory, but in execution and production, it is sub-par at best.
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Disclosure: I received on more more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention in here. I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”