Sunday, August 12, 2012

Bad Boy Bubby (1993)

Bubby is not a bad boy. He is a victim of his environment and of those who are closest to him and should have been protecting him. Bubby (Nicholas Hope) is in his thirties and he lives in an apartment with his mother. She has told him that there is poisonous gas outside, so he is never to leave the apartment. Whenever she leaves, she puts on a gas mask to show him that she's serious. Then while she is out he has to sit in one spot at the kitchen table and if he moves a muscle, she says, that Jesus can see him and he will be beaten. Yikes!

The first thirty minutes of this film are emotionally brutal and visually disgusting. The two of them live in filth. The apartment is a less cluttered version of what you would see on Hoarders. They don't have a lot of junk, but the place is gross. Bubby's mother is also gross. I don't say this because she is extremely overweight. I'm not that shallow and that alone is not the problem, but that combined with her habits and her physically and sexually abusive torment on her son is disgusting and appalling. She also has a lover who is a priest. He comes over once in a while to screw Bubby's disgusting mother and call Bubby horrible names. 

Bubby, who abuses cats by wrapping them in cellophane, simply because he doesn't know any better and he only wants them to be quiet, wraps his mother and the priest in cellophane while they sleep and they both suffocate. Bubby has no idea what he's done, but he decides that since they won't wake up, he will see what is outside. He opens the door to a world where there is no deadly poisonous gas in the air and he can breathe just fine without a gas mask. At this point begins a touching and often beautiful adventure of a man discovering life for the first time. You probably are thinking that this sounds a little like Being There (1979) and I suppose that is true, but while I watched it, I sort of thought of it as the anti Forrest Gump (1994). Bubby isn't very bright, because he's been sheltered and abused his whole life, but he somehow manages to make it. He figures it out and keeps on going. But this film has none of the ridiculous flag waving B.S. and ultimately terrible message of Forrest Gump. While that film said that if you stay dumb and do what you're told, wonderful things will happen to you. Bad Boy Bubby embraces individualism and not in an Ayn Rand sort of way, but in a way that is genuinely innocent and free. Bubby makes some great friends and he learns to love and be loved. 

I have seen quite a few films from Australia and they have a very distinct quality. So many of them are about adventure, Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002), The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert (1994) and The Road Warrior (1981) just to name a few. All of these films feature characters who overcome adversity and travel a great physical distant and meet interesting, important and life changing people along the way. 

Despite the extremely dark and disturbing subject matter of the first half hour of this film, if you can get through all of that, when the darkness lifts and Bubby wanders outside into the fresh air, what we have here is an uplifting movie that is remarkably bright and full of life. 

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