SXSW Review – Grand Jury Prize Winner ‘Bob Trevino Likes It’

SXSW Review – Grand Jury Prize Winner ‘Bob Trevino Likes It’
Barbie Ferreira and John Leguizamo as Lily Trevino and Bob Trevino in Bob Trevino Likes It. | Credit: John Rosario / Chosen Family, LLC

Not everyone is meant to be a parent. Children, on the other hand, don’t have any choice in the matter, and there can be very toxic relationships and dynamics that develop when a parent makes their child feel as if they owe them something for all they had to give up in order to raise them. Breaking out of an unhealthy situation like this can be challenging because parents provide the most enduring model for how to treat other people. Based on an affirming true story, Bob Trevino Likes It shows how one person decided to take her identity into her own hands and forge a new path.

Lily Trevino (Barbie Ferreira) is not living her best life. Instead of sending her initial response – “lose my number, jerk!” – when her boyfriend texts her thinking she’s someone else, she passively replies “No prob!” before bursting into tears. When she goes to see a therapist, her life story is met with sobs from the very disturbed professional-in-training sitting across from her. When her dad, Bob (French Stewart), tells her he’s done with her after she fails to be the perfect wingwoman for his newest aspiring girlfriend, she searches on Facebook and finds another Bob Trevino (John Leguizamo). His simple acts of kindness and curiosity spark an unexpectedly warm and touching bond between the two unrelated Trevinos.

This is an intimate film about two people who are each lonely in their own ways finding each other. Each does have a support system of sorts, with Lily working as a live-in aide for Daphne (Lauren “Lolo” Spencer), who really does want to be her friend and smiling enthusiastically at every person she encounters. Bob is married to Jeanie (Rachel Bay Jones), who frequently enters scrapbooking competitions, and though they mostly do their own thing, they are happy. But Lily is burdened by her desperate need for fatherly approval and Bob is stifled by the job he works impossibly hard for only to receive no credit and no long-promised raise.

Though Lily has clearly endured trauma from her father, who can’t be bothered to look at the poem she’s written but wants her to remember every detail of the multiple women he’s considering as her new mom, this is all presented as a comedy. Lily gleefully tells a random passenger on the bus all about her “new dad,” and his lack of slang knowledge (he doesn’t know “YOLO”) and his truly terrible jokes are all played for sweet-natured laughter. There’s much deeper hurt buried under it all, which this film does address, but it’s mostly presented in a lighthearted and entertaining context.

Ferreira is best known for her supporting role as Kat on Euphoria, and this part couldn’t be any more different. Lily’s insecurities make her much more vulnerable than Kat, and she puts herself out there in a way that may allow her to get hurt but she just bounces right back, projecting an image of nonchalance and gratitude for even (or almost) just being acknowledged because she hasn’t typically had positive experiences where people have affirmed that she’s actually worth something. Leguizamo complements her well with a nervous sincerity that makes him instantly likable.

Laymon makes an inspired feature directorial debut, bringing a version of her own story to the screen with real heart. Though Jeanie initially tells Bob that she’s definitely being catfished, there’s no risk of things getting inappropriate or anyone misinterpreting the situation as something other than Lily trying to fill a hole that has kept her from being able to see herself for who she is for years. This film deservedly won SXSW’s grand jury prize for its commitment to endearing characters and the surprising ways in which they find each other.

Grade: B+

Check out more of Abe Friedtanzer’s articles.

Bob Trevino Likes It makes its world premiere in the Narrative Feature Competition, where it won the Grand Jury Award, at the 2024 SXSW Film and TV Festival.

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