Tim Robbins has proved himself to be an actor who handles comedy and drama with equal facility, be it a farce like “The Player” or a mature drama like “The Shawshank Redemption”. He has also produced and directed films, and has even proved himself as a singer and songwriter, a talent he inherited from his father, who was a member of the folk group The Highwaymen.
Tim has been active in film and theater since the early 80s and is a member of the theater group – the Actors’ Gang theater group. There he has starred in and directed plays. He is a passionate hockey fan and plays in an adult recreational hockey team in New York. Here are 15 Tim Robbins Movies that are worth your time.
15. Mission to Mars (2000) dir. Brian De Palma
Commander Woody Blake (Tim Robbins) and Co-Commander Jim McConnell (Gary Sinise), along with two other astronauts, are sent in the rocket Mars II to find the survivors of the Mars I who landed on Mars. When they enter orbit, Meteorites damage the ship. While they are trying to get to the supply ship in orbit, Woody cannot make it, but removes his helmet to save the rest of the crew, who complete their mission.
Mission to Mars is an excellent sci-fi thriller, with great special effects and a compelling storyline about how Earthlings are descendants of Martians from several millennia ago. The images on Mars are wondrous and the performances are good. The film, while not as appreciated in this country, was a huge hit in France, with much praise for the performances.
Though second billed, Tim Robbins doesn’t have that much screen time, but as the commander of the rescue ship, he does an excellent job of showing determination and facing the realization that he will have to die in order to save the rest of the crew. He also has some of the best comedic lines in the film, which he delivers with his usual sense of dry humor.
14. Human Nature (2001) dir. Michel Gondry
Lila Jute (Patricia Arquette) has lived in the wild for many years due to a disease which makes her grow thick hair everywhere. Returning to civilization at 30, she starts seeing Dr. Nathan Bronfman (Tim Robbins) who is a scientist. They find a man who has lived as an ape for years, and Nathan tried to teach him culture. Nathan eventually runs off with Lila, which leads to a stunning turn of events.
This film is in some ways reminiscent of the screwball comedies of the 1930s. Tim Robbins plays what would have been the Cary Grant part, the stuffy scientist who comes alive at the sign of the huge project he has in hand with the ape man. The scene where he is trying to integrate Puff into society are extremely comical and well written and his chemistry with Patricia Arquette is undeniable. This is the kind of performance for you to sit on the couch with popcorn in hand and have some fun.
13. Thanks for Sharing (2012) dir. Stuart Blumberg
Mike (Tim Robbins) is a recovering sex addict who leads a 12 step program and sponsors Adam, who sponsors Neil. The stories of all these people are shown and discussed at the meeting. Mike’s son Danny comes home. He is a recovering drug addict who is trying to make amends with Mike and his mother Katie. But Mike’s mistrusting nature drives Danny away and into a DUI. Mike learns Danny was sober for 5 months.
A powerful film that does not pull any punches when it comes to addiction, especially sex addiction, it does so with a light touch that makes it easy for people to understand people’s issues with sex. Well written and concise, it covers a lot of ground quickly, seeing it makes you feel it is less than two hours long.
Tim Robbins really gets a chance to shine in this film. As the head of the support group, he thoughtfully works with the other addicts to help them follow their sobriety. Unfortunately while trying to relate to his son, all his old demons surface and he can’t cut his son the slack he cuts the members of the group, which leads to a dangerous conclusion. This is a very powerful performance in a well-made film.
12. Catch a Fire (2005) dir. Phillip Noyce
The film is about Patrick Chamusso, a young political activist in South Africa and his interaction with an Afrikaner police officer Nic Vos (Tim Robbins). Nic is looking for the people involved with an attack on a coal liquefaction plant in the world. Patrick refuses to say where he was as he was having an affair at the time.
Nic and his men beat and torture Patrick and then let him go. In retaliation he plans an attack on Secunda where he used to work. He is caught and sentenced to 24 years, which is annulled when apartheid ends. He wants to kill Nic but realizes there is no point and forgives him and goes on to lead a happy life.
This film shows what apartheid was really like for millions of Black Africans. It has some graphic violence, and shows the kinds of prison sentences meted out for even minor infractions. It also shows how families sometimes turn on one another to save themselves.
This is not just a political thriller. It is based on real people and situations and the actors are allowed to develop the characters. Tim Robbins’ Vos is not just a cardboard bad guy. He does what he does out of his belief that he is trying to make a better South Africa and a better life for his daughters. He plays good and bad with careful shadings and is not just a monster. This is a fine nuanced performance in a really great film.
11. The Lucky Ones (2008) dir. Neil Burger
Tim Robbins stars as Sgt. Fred Cheaver, who has just completed his last tour of duty, and is in New York with two other soldiers to catch their connecting flights. They find the flights are delayed so they pool their money and rent a minivan.
Their first stop is St. Louis where Fred finds his son has been accepted to Stanford and is shocked to learn his wife wants a divorce. He moves on with his new friends to see his brother. They make it to Las Vegas where Fred tried to win the $20,000 his son needs for tuition. Failing that, he rejoins the army for the signing bonus and meets back up with his friends in New York to catch their plane back to their duty.
This film, one of the first films about the Iraq war to be filmed, though takes no sides, had the misfortune to be released after other Iraqi war films failed at the box office. Despite some good reviews, this movie also failed.
Tim Robbins does an excellent job as the older, war weary Fred Cheaver. He wants what is best for his family, but it feels like they have passed him by while he was at war. He ends up doing what he sees as his duty, because by resigning, he receives the $20,000 his son needs for college. He has some good light hearted moments with the other soldiers during their road trip. Enough years have passed now to see this film. It is well worth your time.
10. Bull Durham (1988) dir. Ron Shelton
“Crash” Davis (Kevin Costner), a minor league ballplayer, is sent to the single A Durham Bulls for a specific reason, to train the young pitcher Ebby “Nuke” LaLoosh (Tim Robbins) in controlling his pitching and to groom him for the Major Leagues.
Annie (Susan Sarandon), a baseball groupie, under the guise of sleeping with a new player who uses techniques to improve their game. In their own ways, even though they don’t get along, Crash and Annie train Nuke to be a good pitcher. By midseason, Nuke is ready to join the Majors.
This film is a combination of comedy, romance, and sports film, and it scores well in all categories. Combining these types of films can be tricky, but with the help of a great screenplay and expert performances, it all comes together into one satisfying picture.
This was the film that showed Tim Robbins had what it takes to be a major star. He was able to show himself as a capable pitcher, and his scenes with Susan Sarandon really spark. He names it as his all-time favorite role. He received best supporting actor nominations from two of the critic’s groups including the New York Times. He started to receive better offers and larger roles directly from playing this part.
9. Bob Roberts (1992) dir. Tim Robbins
Tim Robbins stars as Bob Roberts, the conservative son of liberal hippie parents, who is running for Senator. During his stumping, he gets his message across by performing right wing folk songs on his guitar. He is also being followed by a documentary film crew Reporter Bugs Rubin who is trying to use the documentary to prove Roberts is a fraud.
Roberts is leaving a TV studio when he is seemingly shot by a would-be assassin. He recovers but claims to be partly paralyzed. Due to this he is elected and finds out at the inauguration that Bugs Rubin has been killed. Everyone cheers.
This was the first film written, produced and directed by Tim Robbins, who also wrote and performed the folk songs in the film. He acquitted himself nicely in all areas, and the mockumentary style worked well.
It’s actually quite fun to see the very liberal Tim Robbins play conservative so well. The fact he is also a good singer is a welcome surprise. It is so enjoyable to watch Tim have such a great time playing against type, it holds up well to repeat viewings. This is truly a political film for those who do not like politics. It’s done in the style of “This is Spinal Tap”, fans of that movie will enjoy this as well.