Bad Boy Bubby

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Bad Boy Bubby
Bad boy bubby.jpg
Directed byRolf de Heer
Written byRolf de Heer
Produced byRolf de Heer
Giorgio Draskovic
Domenico Procacci
StarringNicholas Hope
Claire Benito
Ralph Cotterill
Carmel Johnson
CinematographyIan Jones
Edited bySuresh Ayyar
Music byGraham Tardif
Distributed byRoadshow Entertainment
Umbrella Entertainment
Release date
  • 28 July 1994 (1994-07-28) (Australia)
Running time
114 minutes[1]
Box officeA$808,789[2]

Bad Boy Bubby is a 1993 Australian black comedy drama film written and directed by Rolf de Heer. It stars Nicholas Hope and Carmel Johnson.


In an industrial area of Adelaide, Bubby is a mentally challenged 35-year old man who lives in a squalid house with his abusive and religious fanatic mother, Florence. He has never left the house, due to his mother claiming that he will either die of the poisonous gas outside, or Jesus will strike him down. He and his mother regularly have sex, and have no other company except for a pet cat, which Bubby accidentally kills with clingwrap. Suddenly, Bubby's father Harold returns home after abandoning Florence before Bubby's birth. Harold did not know he had a son, but he comes to disdain Bubby, and mocks him for his presumed mental disorder. Harold beats Bubby, and encourages Florence to do so as well. One night, Bubby suffocates his mother and father with clingwrap, and decides to venture outside for the first time.

Bubby is picked up by members of The Salvation Army, and wanders into the town centre, but he does not how to act publicly, and is harassed and ostracised. He is later given a lift by a group of men who perform in a rock band, and he helps the band set up a gig. The band take a liking to Bubby, but are also unnerved by his odd behaviour. They read a newspaper that reports on the murder of Bubby's mother and father, and the band members decide to send him to stay with their friend Dan. They go out for dinner, but Bubby fondles a woman and is arrested. He is sent to jail, and is unwilling to talk with the warden. As punishment, he sends Bubby into a separate cell, where he is raped by another inmate, "The Animal". The prison chief then deems him to be rehabilitated, and lets him go.

Bubby enters a church, and converses with a man there, who tells Bubby that God does not exist, and it is the job of humans to "think God out of existence" and take responsibility for themselves. Bubby goes to a pub and fondles another woman, but he is beaten by her friends. Overwhelmed, Bubby returns to his home as he believes that there is no place for him in the world. He dons his father's clothes and assumes the personality of "Pop", before returning to town and finding a stray cat, who he promises to take care of. He goes to the club where the rock band are performing, and joins them on stage, where he delivers a bizarre performance, repeating phrases he has heard from different people. His performance is a success with the crowd, and he goes back to feed the cat, but is distraught to see that it has been killed by local hoodlums. Upset, Bubby encounters a nurse named Angel, who cares for people with physical disabilities. He returns to the care centre with her, and they become lovers.

Bubby has dinner with Angel and her strict Christian parents, who humiliate Angel by berating her weight. Angered, Bubby curses God, before her parents demand he leave. Bubby kills Angel's parents with clingwrap, and the two continue their relationship. Bubby returns to performing with the rock band, and becomes a sensation with audiences. Finally at peace with himself, Bubby and Angel later have a child.


  • Nicholas Hope as Bubby
  • Claire Benito as Mam
  • Ralph Cotterill as Pop
  • Carmel Johnson as Angel
  • Paul Philpot as Paul (singer)
  • Mark Brouggy as Mark (roadie)
  • Todd Telford as Little Greg
  • Paul Simpson as Big Greg
  • Stephen Smooker as Middle Greg
  • Peter Monaghan as Steve
  • Rachael Huddy as herself

Production background[edit]

Shortly after he had graduated from film school, Rolf de Heer and Ritchie Singer collaborated on the idea of what would eventually become Bad Boy Bubby. For most of the 1980s, de Heer collected ideas and wrote them on index cards. In 1987, he took a hiatus from making Bubby index cards, but in 1989 he resumed work. Sometime between 1989 and 1990, he saw the short film Confessor Caressor starring Nicholas Hope (which would eventually be included on the bonus DVD when Bad Boy Bubby was first released on DVD in 2004) and tracked him down. In 1991, he began work on the actual script.

After he heard a rumour about the reintroduction of the death penalty to Australia, de Heer was angered and rewrote the ending so that Bubby would be executed at the end of the film. This ending was scrapped when the rumour proved to be false.

The film was recorded in Port Adelaide between 30 November 1992 and 16 January 1993.

The people with cerebral palsy Bubby meets at the 1 hour 30 minute mark are not actors, but actual disabled people. Hope, a devout Catholic, found the scenes where Bubby curses God in front of Angel's parents difficult to film.

Audio and visual innovation[edit]

Director de Heer describes the film as one large experiment, especially in the method used to record the dialogue: binaural microphones were sewn into the wig worn by leading actor Nicholas Hope, one above each ear. This method gave the sound track a unique sound that closely resembled what the character would actually be hearing. The film also used 31 individual directors of photography to shoot different scenes. Once Bubby leaves the apartment a different director of photography is used for every location until the last third of the film, allowing an individual visual slant on everything Bubby sees for the first time. No director of photography was allowed to refer to the work of the others.[3]

Animal cruelty allegation[edit]

When the film was released in Italy, a coalition of animal rights groups tried to set up a boycott of Australian products, alleging that Bubby's pet cat was wrapped in plastic wrapping and suffocated to death on film, but Rolf de Heer has said that none of that is true; the cat scenes were carefully filmed, with a veterinarian and animal cruelty inspector on set. Nicholas Hope, in an on-stage interview included on the DVD of the film, says there were two cats, one of which became a pet of a crew member. The other was a feral cat that was put down by a vet after filming (as with most feral cats that are caught in Australia).[4] Film critic Mark Kermode left the screening due to the apparent animal abuse in the making of the film.[5]


Award Category Subject Result
AACTA Awards
(1994 AFI Awards)
Best Film Giorgio Draskovic Nominated
Domenico Procacci Nominated
Rolf de Heer Nominated
Best Direction Won
Best Original Screenplay Won
Best Actor Nicholas Hope Won
Best Cinematography Ian Jones Nominated
Best Editing Suresh Ayyar Won
Seattle International Film Festival Golden Space Needle Award for Best Director Rolf de Heer Won
Valenciennes International Festival Audience Award Won
Venice Film Festival FIPRESCI Prize Won
Grand Special Jury Prize Won
Special Golden Ciak Won
Golden Lion Nominated


The film first screened in Australian cinemas on 28 July 1994, and was released on VHS by Roadshow Entertainment early the following year.

On 23 April 2007, Eureka Entertainment released Bad Boy Bubby on DVD for the UK market with all scenes intact. On the Blue Underground DVD, director Rolf de Heer claims that Bubby was the second highest-grossing film in Norway in 1995. In the UK, it was cut for cruelty to a cat.[6] The film was released on DVD in April 2005 in the United States by the Blue Underground company, and a special Two Disc Collectors' Edition was also released in Australia in June 2005 by Umbrella Entertainment. Umbrella reissued the film on Blu-ray in February 2021, newly-remastered from the original negative. The Blu-ray contained all the special features from the 2005 DVD, plus a Q&A session with Nicholas Hope and Natalie Carr and a 25th anniversary commentary. The film had previously been released on Blu-ray in Australia in 2011, using the same transfer used for the 2005 DVD and containing all the special features from it.

Box office[edit]

Bad Boy Bubby grossed $808,789 at the box office in Australia.[2]

Bad Boy Bubby became a big hit in Norway, second only to Forrest Gump and Hope an actor in demand there.[7]


David Stratton, film critic for The Movie Show, praised Bad Boy Bubby. He awarded the film five stars out of five, remarking, "I really think this is one of the finest and most original of all Australian films that I've seen. I really think it's a milestone in Australian cinema".[8] It also holds a 100% approval rating on the review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes, based on 10 reviews, with a weighted average of 7.9/10.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "BAD BOY BUBBY (18)". British Board of Film Classification. 19 August 1994. Retrieved 31 July 2013.
  2. ^ a b "Film Victoria – Australian Films at the Australian Box Office" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 February 2011. Retrieved 10 October 2010.
  3. ^ de Heer, Rolf (1993). "Directors Statement – London Film Festival". Archived from the original on 4 March 2008. Retrieved 12 April 2010.
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ IMDb – Bad Boy Bubby
  7. ^ "Bad Boy Bubby re-visited: Jane Freebury: writer, journalist and author".
  8. ^ "Bad Boy Bubby: Review". SBS Movies. Retrieved 5 January 2017.
  9. ^ "Bad Boy Bubby". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 23 February 2021.

External links[edit]