In the tradition of This Is Spinal Tap, producer/ director/ star Tim Robbins' Bob Roberts is a satire disguised as a documentary. Robbins plays the titular Roberts, a wealthy, well-connected young man running for a senatorial seat in Pennsylvania.
On the surface, Roberts is an ingratiating glad-hander, a sincere believer in the restoration of such intangibles as national pride, family values, etc. But the longer Roberts is followed about by documentary filmmaker Brian Murray, the more we become aware that the candidate is a textbook case of cynicism and contempt.
Only Giancarlo Esposito, a reporter for an underground newspaper, is willing to dig beneath Roberts' veneer--a habit that leads to the film's ironic conclusion. Several well-known actors make cameo appearances as TV commentators, notably Tim Robbins' longtime partner Susan Sarandon.
Bob Roberts started out as a Tim Robbins-directed short subject for the TV series Saturday Night Live, then was expanded into a $4 million feature.