BAD BOY BUBBY (1993).
How come the best, weirdest foreign flicks take so long to finally arrive in the United States? Are distributors pinheads? Or just too busy foisting recycled pabulum like SABRINA or FATHER OF THE BRIDE II onto the masses? This Australia-lensed romp is a prime example, courtesy of Dutch director Rolf de Heer (DINGO, INCIDENT AT RAVEN'S GATE), who pours his twisted vision straight into any deviant's heart. The first, mind-boggling portion features Nicholas Hope as Bubby, a slow-witted thirtysomething who has spent his entire life locked inside a squalid, roach-infested apartment. Kept a prisoner by his fat, overbearing mother (who makes him fondle her flabby breasts and fuck her), poor Bubby is threatened with going to Hell, and told that if he ever leaves the apartment, he'll die from poison gas outside the door (hence, Mom's perpetual gas mask). So there Bubby stays, playing with his spastic cat (until he wraps it in Plastic Wrap and accidentally suffocates it), pissing his pants at the dinner table (because mum ordered him not to move), and trying to be "a good little boy". This daily routine takes a wrong turn when Bubby's lost-lost Pop comes banging at the door and tosses Bubby out on his ass. Let me add that this is the most rancid opening half-hour to any movie I've seen all year, coating the layers of brutality with a thick icing of pitch black comedy. I LOVED IT! The rest of the film has Bubby dealing with the real world for the first time, and although losing its claustrophobic dementia, is still crammed with grim fun. Imagine BEING THERE as directed by David Lynch, because like a bedraggled, down-under Chauncey Gardiner, Bubby survives the everyday chaos through sheer luck and his ability to mimic once-heard phrases (though he's never cognizant of exactly what the fuck anything means). Since he doesn't have a clue about our society, he casually gropes women's breasts, robs a convenience store, and eventually dons a priest's collar to become a local rock star -- which accidentally transforms his past abuse into modern-day performance art (complete with the toe-tapping "Bad Boy Bubby Blues"). Nicholas Hope is fantastic, and whether he's barking like a dog or screwing a Salvation Army cutie, the guy nails the essence of the character and takes Bubby far beyond the one-joke possibilities. Though de Heer isn't always successful in his shotgun blast approach, the result is hilarious, foul and (hard to believe) even sweet at times. Don't pass this up if it comes your way. It's one of the oddest celluloid hodgepodges since SONNY BOY.
© 1996 by Steven Puchalski.