×

Bob the Butler

A disaster-prone, serial job-seeker named Bob (Tom Green) finds his calling looking after uptight, single-mother career girl (Brooke Shields) and her kids in only fitfully funny but inoffensive Canuck-Brit comedy "Bob the Butler." Pic probably will have short theatrical career after its October release Stateside.

With:
With: Tom Green, Brooke Shields, Rob LeBelle, Genevieve Buechner, Benjamin Smith, Valerie Tian, Simon Callow.

A disaster-prone, serial job-seeker named Bob (Tom Green) finds his calling looking after uptight, single-mother career girl (Brooke Shields) and her kids in only fitfully funny but inoffensive Canuck-Brit comedy “Bob the Butler.” Though a definite improvement over Green’s self-helmed feature “Freddy Got Fingered,” “Bob” reps yet another underwhelming outing for Blighty helmer Gary Sinyor, who has not yet made good on the promise of his low-budget debut “Leon the Pig Farmer.” Pic probably will have short theatrical career after its October release Stateside, with better prospects as a straight-to-ancillary product for the family market elsewhere.

Good-hearted but utterly useless at everything, Bob Tree (Green) has been trying different careers in the order they appear in the phone book, but he gets fired every time. Having reached the “Bu-C” section of the Yellow Pages, he decides being a butler will be his next venture and signs up for a course with appropriately named Englishman gentleman’s gentleman Mr. Butler (Simon Callow, adding a certain dignity to the one-dimensional role).

No sooner has he graduated than Anne (Shields), a client who once employed and fired him when he was Bob the Babysitter, calls him in desperation to look after her difficult, somewhat neglected children, preteen Tess (Genevieve Buechner) and younger Bates (Benjamin Smith), so Anne can go out on a date with supercilious smoothie b.f. Jacques (Rob LeBelle).

Seeing how easily they can wrap Bob around their fingers, the kids campaign to get Bob employed as the family butler on a permanent live-in basis.

Auds familiar with story setups of this type will quickly see where the pic is going, as Bob comes to replace the kids’ absent father by taking a proper interest in their lives and develops a tentative rapport with Anne, despite the fact that she’s a neurotic cow who makes Tea Leoni’s character in “Spanglish” look like a model parent.

Such predictability would be more forgivable if the gags weren’t so lacking in originality. Comic highpoint is a well-staged and briskly timed scene where Tess, keen to keep Bob in the job, covers up one of his early disasters by using brother Bates as a scapegoat. Otherwise, script’s idea of kindergarten-style funny is to milk laughs repeatedly from Bob’s instinct to stick the address “master” in front of Bates’ name, and have Anne scream loudly when Bob’s pet hamster Rascal gets loose in the house.

Perfs by leads feel similarly by rote, although Brooks continues here to display an underrated knack for comic timing. Green seems to be assaying an Adam Sandler sweet-schmuck schtick, with unimpressive results. Kids are typically drama-school cute but sound over-rehearsed.

Tech credits are pro, but nothing special, with a by-now over-familiar Vancouver standing in for a generic American city.

Popular on Variety

Bob the Butler

Canada - U.K.

Production: A Rampage Entertainment (Canada)/Open Eye Prods. (U.K.) production, in association with Park Entertainment, commissioned by Aquarius Films. (International sales: Park, London.) Produced by Gavin Wilding, Esther Randall. Executive producers, Gary Rubin, Al Munteanu, Terence S. Potter, Jacqueline Quella, Jim Howell, Simon Barnes, Simon Baxter. Co-producers, Tom Green, Jacquelyn Renner, Chris Atkins. Directed by Gary Sinyor. Screenplay, Jane Walker Wood, Steven Manners, Sinyor, based on a story by Wood, Manners.

Crew: Camera (color), Jason Lehel; editor, Richard Overall; music, David A. Hughes; production designer, Michael Nemirsky; art director, Mervyn Hope; costume designer, Heather Lee Douglas; sound, Tad Nazar; sound supervisor (Dolby), Vincent Watts. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (market), May 13, 2005. Running time: 90 MIN.

With: With: Tom Green, Brooke Shields, Rob LeBelle, Genevieve Buechner, Benjamin Smith, Valerie Tian, Simon Callow.

More Film

  • Amanda Awards

    ‘Out Stealing Horses’ Tops Norway’s 2019 Amanda Awards

    HAUGESUND, Norway —  Hans Petter Moland’s sweeping literary adaptation “Out Stealing Horses” put in a dominant showing at Norway’s Amanda Awards on Saturday night, placing first with a collected five awards, including best Norwegian film. Celebrating its 35th edition this year, the Norwegian industry’s top film prize helped kick off the Haugesund Film Festival and [...]

  • Editorial use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    Richard Williams, 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' Animator, Dies at 86

    Renowned animator Richard Williams, best known for his work on “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” died Friday at his home in Bristol, England, Variety has confirmed. He was 86. Williams was a distinguished animator, director, producer, author and teacher whose work has garnered three Oscars and three BAFTA Awards. In addition to his groundbreaking work as [...]

  • Instinct

    Locarno Film Review: 'Instinct'

    Now that “Game of Thrones” has finally reached its conclusion, releasing its gifted international ensemble into the casting wilds, will Hollywood remember just what it has in Carice van Houten? It’s not that the statuesque Dutch thesp hasn’t been consistently employed since her startling 2006 breakout in Paul Verhoeven’s “Black Book,” or even that she’s [...]

  • Good Boys Movie

    Box Office: 'Good Boys' Eyes Best Original Comedy Opening of 2019

    Universal’s “Good Boys” is surpassing expectations as it heads toward an estimated $20.8 million opening weekend at the domestic box office following $8.3 million in Friday ticket sales. That’s well above earlier estimates which placed the film in the $12 million to $15 million range, marking the first R-rated comedy to open at No. 1 [...]

  • Pedro Costa’s 'Vitalina Varela' Wins at

    Pedro Costa’s 'Vitalina Varela' Triumphs at Locarno Film Festival

    The 72nd Locarno Film Festival drew to a close Saturday with Portuguese auteur Pedro Costa’s dark and detached film “Vitalina Varela” coming away with several awards together with superlatives from segments of the hardcore cinephile crowd, including jury president Catherine Breillat. In announcing the Golden Leopard prize for the film, as well as best actress [...]

  • Vitalina Varela

    Locarno Film Review: 'Vitalina Varela'

    Frequently beautiful compositions and the theatrical use of a fierce kind of artifice have long been the hallmarks of Portuguese auteur Pedro Costa, regarded by a small but influential group of aesthetes as one of the great filmmakers of our era. For those in tune with his vision, the director’s films offer an exciting lesson [...]

  • Notre dame

    Locarno Film Review: 'Notre dame'

    Not to be too cynical about it, but might the recent horrific fire in Paris’ cathedral attract audiences to a film in which the gothic gem plays a major role? It’s likely a wiser marketing strategy than promoting the unrelenting silliness of Valerie Donzelli’s oh-so-kooky comedy “Notre dame,” the writer-director-star’s return to contemporary Paris following [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content