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Bad Boy Bubby (1993) – DVD Review

Bad Boy Bubby DVD cover


Written and Directed by: Rolf de Heer
Starring: Nicholas Hope, Claire Benito, Carmel Johnson


  • Interview with Director Rolf de Heer
  • Interview with Nicholas Hope
  • “Confessor Caressor” Short Film
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Poster & Still Gallery

Released by: Blue Underground
Region: 1
Rating: NR
Anamorphic: Yes

My Advice: Rent It

Bubby (Hope) is a strange damaged man. Never leaving a squalid apartment and being terrorized and abused by a psycho mother will do that to you. So when Bubby’s father returns and upsets the situation, this causes Bubby to encounter the outside world. With stunted emotional growth and no clue to normal social interaction, he gets into a lot of trouble. But as it happens in stories like these, he also finds people that help him out like a slutty Salvation Army officer, a struggling rock band, and an understanding nurse named Angel. So there may be hope yet for Bad Boy Bubby.

[ad#longpost]Many artists have used the child in a man’s body to explore society and its myriad absurdities. For instance, Peter Sellers‘ film, Being There, comes to mind. However, Bubby’s development has been stunted due to abuse, so there is a rage that is not present in similar stories. In fact, Bubby shows many of the characteristics of an abused child: he is hyper-aware of his surroundings, he mimics people around him, and takes out his anger on a substitute–a cat. Of course, you get the usual scenes with a story like this: inappropriate actions in the real world (groping women, mouthing off to cops), child-like wonder at new things (pizza, children), and people being generally clueless and misconstruing what Bubby is.

As the movie progresses, you sense that Bubby is starting to connect with people as people. People are more than strange things but instead humans he can form emotional attachments with. Each encounter he has subtly changes him and grows his emotional vocabulary. It really is a fascinating character study to watch. This is all due to Nicholas Hope. I rarely see an actor give everything to a role. At times, he’s completely animalistic, crawling around and attacking cockroaches. Other times, he is the innocent, playing like the child he still is, at least in a way. Of course, there’s the confusion and anger stemming from his bitch of a mother and the world Bubby has so little understanding of. Hope has a talent for mimicry that is almost eerie. Like most “children,” Bubby repeats what he hears to understand what it means. But Hope captures inflection and body movement so well when imitating people, it’s equal parts impressive and off putting. Director Rolf de Heer experimented with this movie like using microphones attached to Hope’s head to record sound and using multiple cinematographers in the film. But when it comes down to it, it’s really acting talent over “filmmaking flourishes” that makes this movie watchable.

Nicholas Hope is Big Bad Bubby
Are you my Bubby?

The extras are a touch thin, but agreeable. You have interviews from the director and the lead star about making the movie and the impact it had on their careers. There is also a short film about a bragging serial killer called “Confessor Caressor,” starring Hope, that attracted de Heer’s attention. I would have preferred a director’s commentary or some deleted scenes, but what can you do. If you’re in the mood for something odd but good, check out Bad Boy Bubby.

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