Bobby G. Can't Swim

"Extraordinary"

Bobby G. Can't Swim Review


Having just watched probably the worst single-man-show I had ever seen (Happy Birthday, Mr. Mograbi), I walked into the theatre for Bobby G. Can't Swim with the same queasy trepidation of Jodie Foster sitting in front of Hannibal the Cannibal in Silence of the Lambs. Another one-man show awaited me, this one in a genre (the street movie) that is overdone at the best.

Sitting in the theatre, still aching for Pepto-Bismol after Mograbi's shaky camerawork, I began to compose my negative review in advance. I began to figure out insults that I could pass off later on. This process occupied my mind for almost five minutes, at which point the thoroughly excellent and surprising Bobby G. Cant' Swim came on the screen and made me vow yet again to save coming up with snide wise ass comments until after I have watched the movie.

Bobby G. Can't Swim is the story of Bobby Grace (John-Luke Montias), a street pusher who may be able to make the deal of his lifetime... sell a key of cocaine to a bunch of out-of-town yuppies at a tremendous markup. Of course, several things go wrong with this simple plan and Bobby G. ends up fighting for his life.

Admittedly, Bobby G. loses a point for originality in plot, but therein lies the film's only flaw. Instead of having a street movie that waxes philosophical about how hard the street life is or that simply curses and shoots people, Bobby G. Can't Swim opts for adopting a strong case of gallows humor.

Bobby is a small time sucker who is constantly getting taken advantage of (i.e. he ends up getting a collector's bowling ball for a few grams of cocaine), and what little moral fiber Bobby has makes him so endearing to the viewer that it is impossible to take your eyes off the character. This is aided by the fact that John-Luke Montias tailor-made the part to himself and tended bar in the area in which the film takes place. Susan Mitchell, who plays Bobby's hooker-girlfriend, shines as much as a gritty New York hooker can shine.

Despite his proficiency with actors and his background in acting, Montias cannot and will not ever be described as an actor's director. This backhand that several critics use to excuse a director's lack of technical proficiency has no place in a review of Bobby G. Can't Swim due to the fact that the film is extremely well made. The camera is infused with the energy of the street, and Montias captures New York City perfectly.

The script sidesteps almost every cliché in the genre. It never mentions the Mafioso. It never deals with racist themes. It never paints its characters in black and white. The only cliché that it does not sidestep is its ending. Somewhere along the line, the script forces itself into a narrative cul-de-sac and we end up with a predictable final scene. Yet this is virtually the only problem, and the ending is not so terrible as to spoil the rest of the film. All in all Bobby G. Can't Swim is a film worth time and money in every way, shape, and form... it's a boisterous, exhilarating ride worth paying for.



Bobby G. Can't Swim

Facts and Figures

Run time: 89 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 31st May 2000

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 70%
Fresh: 7 Rotten: 3

IMDB: 6.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Starring: as Bobby Grace, as Lucy, as Coco, Norman Middleton as Popeet, Gilbert Glenn Brown as Reggie, as Mike, as Andy, as Gina, as Tim, as Alex, Anthony Caso as Tony Zino, Steve Heinze as Astro, Bill Golodner as Det. Smith, Rick Poli as Dollar Bill, Tom Flannagan as Det. Nuzzo, Veronica Bero as His Girl, Cesar De León as Ricky, Amro Salama as Hafiz

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