Bringing Up Bobby is fresh comedy from Nick and Chris Staron (Between the Walls), and explores the angst of teenage life and what it takes to make a family. After their parents' death 12 years ago, James Wyler (Marc Thompson) was left to raise his younger siblings. Andrea, who became an uptight and domineering housewife, moved away to live with her cowed husband Walter. Dennis became a drug-using anarchist, and only Bobby is left at home with James.
Bobby, looking for an identity and relationships, prefers to dress Goth and avoid too much interaction at school. James, trying to finish raising Bobby, has put his life and relationships on hold until Bobby is of age. When they need to talk honestly, they dress in random costumes and pull out the "war table," where they commit to telling truth – no matter what. It's during one of those sessions that James challenges Bobby to find his own identity and his own faith, or else it will never be real.
Two weeks before Bobby's 16th birthday, James finds out that his sister Andrea is contesting his right to be the executor of their parents' estate and Dennis comes home from wherever he's been. It's the perfect storm. What ensues is a mixture of slapstick comedy, light romance, and family intrigue
Christian Family Comedy
With this film, the Staron brothers venture into a vastly underserved territory in the Christian: light comedy geared toward teenagers. It succeeds in its portrayal of a dysfunctional family and people trying to find themselves.
Andrea's identity seems to be found in bossing her husband (and anyone else who will allow her to) around. Dennis is an anarchist and probably a drug user. He tries on a couple of different personas during the film, and at the end, goes back to who he was at the beginning, without changing at all.
Bobby dresses like a Goth but he doesn't act like a typical one (unless you count Abby Sciutto on NCIS), but then again, what is a typical Goth? James' identity has been in raising his siblings; looking out for them and doing the best he can to parent them and ensure their welfare. He's had to be an adult for his siblings, but he still has some growing up to do.
In some ways, the Starons have created a modern-day Mayberry. James is Uncle Andy, the relative who's doing his best to raise a child that isn't his. He may not have all the answers, but he does ask good questions to help Bobby (Opie) think through his problems. Instead of taking a walk down Main Street or going fishing to talk about things, they box with oversized boxing gloves or fence with riding crops.
Much of the film is about Bobby's identity. Does it come from the way he dresses and acts? And if he meets a girl he likes, does he have to change for her? Those are all things that teenagers think about and wonder. Who will like me for who I am?
The cinematography is fun and interesting, especially under the opening titles, and it looks like everyone had fun during the production. One scene set in a water park feels like it was inserted so a specific song could be played during the film, and a kickball game in a gym feels long, but other than that, the scenes are tightly produced, without too much extra padding in them.
The last 30 minutes of the film are the meatiest, and contain the best scenes. The family issues are addressed, but not resolved, and Bobby finds peace with who he is. Just as in real life, the loose ends aren't neatly tied up, and everyone doesn't go home happy.
The Starons are promoting this as an evangelistic Christian comedy, which is an apt description because about two minutes into the film the preaching begins. It's done in a conversational way, but it's still preaching. Throughout, James constantly asks Bobby to consider his faith and where his identity comes from.
Parents will enjoy this film because it contains good messages about families and finding your identity in Christ. Some teenagers will enjoy the comedic nature and probably see themselves in the search for identity. It's a good start to creating films for this generation of youth, something that hasn't been done too successfully in Christian filmmaking since the 70s.
Bringing Up Bobby has no MPAA rating, but it is fine for the whole family. It contains no objectionable content or language.
Courtesy of the producers, Angela previewed a screening copy of Bringing Up Bobby.