Home Movies by Decade Movies - 1990s Bad Boy Bubby (1993)

Bad Boy Bubby (1993)

As a rule, Hollywood portrays the mentally disabled as quaint, likeable, quirky and entirely benign people who occasionally say the wisest things. No wait, I’m thinking of Australians . . .

Anyway, if you want to watch both conventions refreshingly shattered, see the Australian indy legend Bad Boy Bubby. It may seem like a Francis Bacon painting brought to life and you may come very, very close to switching it off but do yourself a favour and give it five minutes. And another five. And another. After the first twenty minutes of horrified fascination, you’ll appreciate the payoff.

badboybubby_003

‘Bubby’ (Nicholas Hope) has been locked up in a two-room slum for all his 35 years and used as a sex toy by his mother (Claire Benito).

Bubby believes that if he ventures beyond his front door he will suffocate and die, but when his long-lost father (an alcoholic priest) returns home he eventually gets out into the real world and discovers it can’t be any worse.

The series of vignettes connect less to form a plot as a journey of discovery. Much of his journey involves the coincidences, symbolism and overtly self-aware characters that only surface in low-budget ‘message films’.

Bubby encounters technology, theology, music and sex in a whirlwind. He is not a passive observer. He actively wants to participate, touch and connect with all he sees. Bubby is a blank slate thrust into the world, attempting to interpret it from a limited and damaged perspective.

Abused and exploited by everyone from feminists to animal lovers, seduced by a Salvation Army girl (Natalie Carr), beaten by policemen, thrown in jail and raped by a prisoner and set upon and kicked by women who think he’s a pervert, Bubby – armed only with the few phrases he’s learnt from his mother – has a tough entry into an inhospitable world. But others soon warm to this innocent idiot savant, and Bubby starts to find a place in the poisoned world from which he was confined.

He makes friends with the members of a pub rock band who turn him loose as their singer and is adopted by a kindly nurse called Angel (Carmel Johnson) who looks after people with severe physical difficulties.

Eventually, Bubby and Angel become lovers. They have children and settle down. Bubby finds a place in the world.

Nicholas Hope is excellent as Bubby. He is convincingly awkward and if you share Bubby’s fascination with “Great tits . . . big whoppers of ’em” you will enjoy much of this movie. Whereas if you’re a cat lover you will find it difficult in places. But by the time you reach the ending – with Lisa Gerard beautifully interpreting Handel’s Largo – you will mostly remember the good.

Bubby 
Nicholas Hope
Mom
Claire Benito
Pop

Ralph Cotterill
Angel

Carmel Johnson
Yabba

Syd Brisbane

Director
Rolf de Heer