A Love Song for Bobby Long

A Love Song for Bobby Long

Just for the record, Scarlett Johansson is fucking gorgeous. She isn’t even naked or anything in this movie, and is packaged as kind of low class and plain, but the mere fact that you get to sit and look at her for two hours is a major plus for this movie.

It’s distracting too. I’m trying to watch a movie, and instead my mind is on my many Scarlett Johansson fantasies.

That reminds me of a movie phenomenon that doesn’t have the ring of truth. When a really spectacular looking sexy woman is in a movie, it’s always suspicious to me if she’s playing any kind of a “regular person.” That is, in real life, her looks would presumably have a big impact on her life, and on how people interact with her. If, like in this movie, she has kind of a nothing life and only gets the standard amount of attention from males, it just seems off to me. It’s like having an eight foot tall man in the cast, where his height doesn’t play any role in the plot, and people react to him like they would if he were six feet tall. I want to say “So does nobody notice he’s eight freaking feet tall!” or “That’s Scarlett freaking Johansson! React accordingly! Give her a car, or make a complete fool out of yourself or something!”

Anyway, besides the Scarlett factor, A Love Song for Bobby Long also has going for it the fact that it is set in New Orleans, and I have a stronger attachment to and fondness for New Orleans than any other city. I wish it had more street scenes and such in New Orleans, but it did have some, and I enjoyed picking out stuff I recognized.

Then again, I’ve seen movies set in New Orleans before, and they typically haven’t affected me emotionally. But for some reason I was more receptive to it watching this movie. It put me in a nostalgic mood, and made me think again about whether one day I’ll return there to live.

So for at least a couple of reasons, I kind of wanted to like this movie. And I did, to some extent. Probably it’s no better than an average movie, but I enjoyed it more than that.

John Travolta plays a former literature professor, now philosophizing drunk. He has a sidekick, a former graduate student of his who owes him a favor and has been supposedly writing his biography for the last nine years. At the start of the movie, the woman they’ve been mooching off of for years and living with dies, and her estranged teenage daughter—Scarlett—soon arrives to take possession of the house, only to find that apparently it’s been left equally to her and these other two characters. She moves in.

I mostly found it interesting watching their relationship develop, and just following the story and the other characters and the locale and such. I don’t know how to justify or explain why; I just felt like it drew me in and kept me at least moderately engaged the whole way.

Actually there are plenty of little things about the film I can find fault with.

Scarlett is more hostile to the other two characters for much of the movie than there seems any reason to be. It’s like the filmmaker wants there to be that conflict to move the plot along, but really it’s not particularly well grounded.

Related to what I was saying earlier, the attention Scarlett gets isn’t proportional to her looks. You assume from early on that one or both of these guys will bed her, but really neither one makes a huge effort to do so. She and the young guy develop a bit of a thing, but he doesn’t show much enthusiasm and really doesn’t push it. For that matter, she has only one date the whole movie with anyone else, and doesn’t seem to make any friends or social connections to speak of beyond her two roommates the whole year or so that the movie covers. So a blatant violation of the “Oh my God, it’s Scarlett freaking Johansson!” rule.

If it turns out she really is Travolta’s daughter, it’s strange that no one seems to have guessed that. She even says “Couldn’t you add up to nine months?” or something like that, and really it shouldn’t be a rhetorical question. I don’t know, maybe the implication is he was too drunk to even remember it and has no clue if or when he ever had sex with the mother. Also, no one seems creeped out by the fact that there’d been a certain amount of flirting or sexual tension between them (as I say, a bit more with the younger guy, but still some with Travolta). It’s like it wouldn’t fit with what the movie’s trying to do to go there, so it doesn’t. But in real life, surely people would be thinking about that angle and probably be bothered by it, or at least commenting (“Ooh, am I glad we didn’t…”).

The Travolta character is evidently supposed to be this very charismatic guy—a ladies’ man, a genius, someone who really knows how to enjoy life and go for the gusto, someone who naturally draws admirers idolizing him for his brilliance and his tortured artist status. But I don’t know that he ever really manifests that kind of appeal. He’s OK and all, I’m not saying it’s a total mystery why anyone would want to hang out with him or see him as having a certain level of life wisdom or charisma, but he just doesn’t seem all that special to me. I also never bought the Southern accent.

Like I say though, the film mostly won me over. I liked the characters, liked the setting, liked the story.

The movie it reminds me of a little bit is Forty Shades of Blue. They’re not all that similar; it’s just something about the feel. I’d say I enjoyed the two movies about equally. Because I was more receptive to A Love Song for Bobby Long for my own personal reasons mentioned earlier that don’t really have to do with the quality of the movie, put a gun to my head and I’d say Forty Shades of Blue is probably slightly the better film.

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