A Love Song for Bobby Long (2004) / Drama
MPAA Rated: R for language and sexual references
Running time: 119 min.
Cast: John Travolta, Scarlett Johansson, Gabriel Macht, Deborah Kara Unger, Dane Rhodes, David Jensen, Clayne Crawford
Director: Shainee Gabel
Screenplay: Shainee Gabel (based on the book, "Off Magazine Street", by Ronald Everett Capps)
It's respectable to see John Travolta (The Punisher, Basic) trying to be an actor again, but as Bobby Long, I just didn't really buy him in the part of an aging alcoholic writer -- I only saw him as Travolta with white hair. Travolta isn't the real reason I couldn't get into the Bobby Long groove. The story itself, while it does feature some nice character touches, is just full of too many Southern gothic clichés to make me think it ever stood out to be a distinct entity of its own. Colorful drunks, eccentrics, seedy locales, and all of the rest are thrown in in whimsical, down-home fashion, and unfortunately, the story never introduces us to anything remarkable to make the two hours we spend with these characters worthwhile.
When her mother dies, her young adult daughter Pursy (Scarlett Johansson, Lost in Translation) returns back to New Orleans to claim her inheritance, her mother's home. When she arrives, she discovers two men already living there, claiming that they were also left an equal share of the home. The men are college professor Bobby Long and his assistant Lawson Pines (Gabriel Macht, The Recruit), who spend their days drinking, carousing, and trying to work on the novel that will make a name for themselves -- the story of Bobby Long's life. None of them show any inkling of wanting to leave, so Pursy is forced to stick it out with the womanizing drunks for the time being, and finds that these two losers are actually more than meets the eye.
As I sit here, I'm actually at a loss for something worthwhile to say about the experience of watching A Love Song for Bobby Long. It had decent performances, nice cinematography, good local flavor, but without much going on in the story, I just can't recommend it to anyone who isn't a sucker for quaint character studies about odd people. Like the characters in the movie, I also sometimes struggle with putting down the right words, but I assure you, this isn't from too much imbibing of alcoholic beverages. Perhaps getting sloshed would have helped pass two monotonous hours a little easier.
©2005 Vince Leo