Who the Hell Is Bobby Roos? (review)

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There’s no question that Roger Kabler is a startlingly gifted impersonator, with a repertoire that runs from John Travolta and Robert DeNiro to Robin Williams and Richard Dreyfuss, but this independently produced film is little more than an excuse to string together Kabler’s routines. The fictional story, “based on” Kabler’s “experiences,” follows the breakdown of comedian and impersonator Bobby Roos (Kabler) as his career, which once saw him starring in his own sitcom and appearing on The Tonight Show, reaches a nadir of beating up hecklers in seedy nightclubs. The film, from director John Feldman and shot on miniDV, touches on the disturbing near insanity of a man who increasingly cannot interact with others except in character — the subplot in which he gets involved with an attractive young woman but cannot deal with her except as “DeNiro” is appropriately creepy — but it never fully engages us in Roos himself. He’s more interesting, frankly, when he’s lost in his impersonations than he is as himself, which seems contrary to the film’s admonition that the artist shouldn’t let himself be too subsumed by his art. The copious extras — from the “Sideshow” video footnotes to the movie-trivia game to the DVD-ROM “Wacky 8-Ball” presented by Kabler’s many alter egos — only reinforce the impression of this as little else than a showcase for Kabler. Not that Kabler doesn’t deserve to be seen, but he needs a stronger story around him.

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