A crowd-pleasing film based upon director Tracie Laymon’s experience talking with a stranger online at a low point in her life, Bob Trevino Likes It is a moving story that proves good people do exist in this world. With two wonderful performances by Barbie Ferreira and John Leguizamo––playing two strangers who share the same last name but are otherwise unrelated––the film progresses into a moving yet somewhat predictable affair. And that’s okay. It’s also not just a work of cinematic comfort food, with Ferreira expressing an incredible amount of emotional vulnerability, humor, and at times a youthful naivety in a performance that’s a little more complex than initially meets the eye.

Ferreira plays 25-year-old Lily Trevino, the daughter of Robert (French Stewart), a recent retiree who fancies himself a player in his local trailer park retirement community. He’s a cheap jerk who complains about the cost of dating, asking why two people need to have dinner in order to get to know each other. We learn Lily, underemployed as a caretaker to Dapne (Lauren Lolo Spencer), a woman around her age, is the product of a broken home, including a drug-addicted mother who abandoned Robert and Lily.

Ultimately, father and daughter officially fall out over an awkward dinner date where Robert (aka Coupon Bob) takes his new girlfriend Helene (Debra Stripe) and Lily to dinner and Lily can’t keep her biography straight after confusing her story for another woman Robert is dating. It’s awkward enough when Bob finds the dinner specials aren’t available that evening before things really go south.

Dramatically cut from her father’s life by security at the retirement community, Lily takes to Facebook, where she finds Bob Trevino (Leguizamo), a construction manager who lacks a profile picture. Lily reaches out and they casually strike up a conversation, learning more about each other. He’s childless and a workaholic, but in a relatively happy marriage to Jeanie (Rachel Bay Jones). Jeanie worries about her husband, in particular his lack of meaningful friendships while she takes to scrapbooking for reasons that will be revealed later.

Eventually Lily and Bob meet; Bob predictably becomes a friend and mentor, doing the things fathers should do for their adult daughters (household fixes, spending time together). They eventually spend whole days together, just hanging out and talking about their anxieties and issues. Certainly this is not the kind of a movie for a cynic or nihilist, but as far as charming movies about nice people go, Bob Trevino Likes It checks the box and then some.

Performances ultimately carry this film, Leguizamo nailing the assignment as a generically kind but quietly reserved man who eventually learns to stand up for himself––especially when put in a bad position at work. Lily, too, learns to fend for herself and learns that she is capable of being loved and moving forward. Laymon’s script side-steps any reservations Jeanie has about the relationship, creating a portrait of a marriage that, again, on its surface may seem simple but feels authentic, built upon real struggles and triumphs.

Ferreira’s Lily also feels quite authentic. At moments she can impressively transition from being silly to emotionally vulnerable. While she does seek help to work through her issues, she asks a therapist for a quick fix because it’s all she can afford at the moment. Bob proves that sometimes the right people just enter your life at the right time.

While the timeline is compressed from Laymon’s experience (occurring over months rather than years) the emotional impact is largely the same, even if details are somewhat less complicated than the real-life story Laymon recalled during the film’s Q&A. Of course that is the nature of narrative filmmaking, and Bob Trevino Likes It is ultimately a satisfying work that may seem too good to be true––certainly not a bad thing.

Bob Trevino Likes It premiered at SXSW 2024.

Grade: B

No more articles