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Review: 'Bob's New Suit' is threadbare

A family adjusts to a daughter's transition to male but never learns how to handle a talking suit/narrator. Alan Howard writes and directs.

March 21, 2013|By Mark Olsen
  • A scene from "Bob's New Suit."
A scene from "Bob's New Suit." (Handout )

In "Bob's New Suit," a family deals with a series of intersecting dramas. Bob and Jenny (Hunter S. Bodine and Hayley DuMond) decide to get married just as Bob's sister Stephanie (Shay Astar) announces she is transitioning from female to male and will now go by Steve. Their parents, Polly and Buster (Suzi Bodine and John Bennett Perry), struggle to take it all in as Buster deals with escalating health issues.

Though Alan Howard, a former studio executive and film critic in his debut as a writer-director, captures the way in which personal and family dramas intersect so there is not one episode or incident that prevails in making life chaotic, he also can't stop himself from piling problems one on top of another like a late-night sandwich gone out of control. By the time some late-act revelations involving the identities of Polly and Buster sprinkle an unexpectedly happy resolution over everything, Howard has lost any thread of real life.

Moreover, there's never quite a justification for the central conceit of having the story narrated by the suit of the title — yes, a suit with consciousness and the ability to communicate to the audience though not the characters — making the entire foundation of the movie seem cute but irrelevant. With good intentions and a warm heart but undone by uneven performances and shaky storytelling, "Bob's New Suit" never quite finds the right fit.

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"Bob's New Suit."

No MPAA rating.

Running time: 1 hour, 37 minutes.

At the Arena Cinema, Hollywood.

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