KIFF Movie Review: Bob and the Monster
Take one look at Bob Forrest and it becomes obvious that this guy has a story. His shaggy hair, thick rimmed glasses, pitted skin and twinkle in his eye show a man with an individuality, kindness and passion that can only come from an acquired wisdom. He’s the type of guy I dream of meeting in an empty bar, and over the course of the evening, and a few pints of beer, hearing the stories of his life until the bartender sends us out into the night. Since drinking is out of the question, Bob and the Monster might be the next best thing.
The documentary, directed by Keirda Bahruth, retells the tale of Bob’s relationship with substance abuse. A doe-eyed kid during the 1980s punk-rock music scene, the one that helped spark the careers of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Jane’s Addiction, hee was in a band too called Theolonious Monk. You may have never heard of them, but they are considered influential regardless of their mainstream success. In fact, they are one of those bands that probably would have made it if the drugs hadn’t gotten the best of them.
Bob was one of the worst. The once kind-hearted kid had become vindictive and selfish. He ditched the band and made an embarrassing attempt at a solo career. Then he blew every penny on getting a fix, and spent years in and out of rehab before Lindsey Lohan had made it popular. His story should have been a sad one, but it isn’t. Remarkably, after years of struggling he turned his life around and is now considered one of the premier and most controversial drug abuse counselors in theUnited States.
Bahruth presents Forrest’s story with an empathetic eye, but is unafraid to show a bit of the ugliness too. With a plentitude of footage, it is as much about a vibrantly insane era of music as it about rehabilitation. There are lots of interviews too, including some from Courtney Love, Dr. Drew Pinsky, members of Theolonious Monk, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Fishbone, and Guns n’ Roses. They create a well-rounded profile of the man who seemed intent on burning out, but has learned how to maintain a steady flame.
While the documentary does not address this, it may be of interest that Bob Forrest is one of the primary counselors on VH1’s reality TV show, “Celebrity Rehab”. The film wisely leaves this out, but it does leave a hole. Forrest is presented as well-esteemed, unconventional and innovative, and after such a build up I would have enjoyed a bit more time seeing him counsel. Instead, the film uses his new found career as the final chapter, or actually the start of the next one. Honestly, this just left me wanting more, a deeper discussion of what sets him apart from the rest. I suppose not wanting a film to end though is hardly something to complain about.
Forrest says what he is doing now is “punk rock recovery”. This almost feels like an oxymoron, the concept of soberness in conjunction with punk, but in some ways so does his life. His is an unlikely story of redemption and finding one’s life calling in the most challenging of ways. On top of that, not only did he manage to defeat his own monster, but now he spends his life helping to fight everyone else’s.
3 out of 5 stars