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‘Bob Trevino Likes It’ Review: Barbie Ferreira and John Leguizamo Ground Stranger Than Fiction True Story

The year of “Barbie” is continuing right on into 2024. But we’re not talking about that Barbie: Now, it’s Barbie Ferreira’s time to be talked about.

The “Euphoria” breakout star, who parted ways with the HBO series ahead of Season 3, leads “Bob Trevino Likes It,” her first film since the show exit announcement. While Ferreira has had roles in “Unpregnant” and “Nope,” it’s “Bob” that puts Ferreira on the map as one to watch — and she even executive produces it along with her co-star John Leguizamo.

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In the film, Ferreira stars as Lily Trevino, a 25-year-old at-home caretaker who struggles with self-abandonment. The source of most of her woes? Her narcissistic abuser father Bob (French Stewart). Lily can’t see the damage that Bob has caused, and after an explosive fight in which Bob blames Lily for cramping his bachelor lifestyle, he cuts her off for good.

Thus, Lily is now left actually abandoned, and she opts to stay emotionally distant from her bubbly client, played by “The Sex Lives of College Girls” star Lauren “Lolo” Spencer, and wallow in her room scrolling the internet. It’s only when Lily tries to cyber-stalk her own father that she feels like she’s hit a new low … and Facebook friends a faceless other Bob Trevino (Leguizamo) whose approval she craves. Every time this Bob “likes” one of her posts, especially ones that are flashbacks to Lily’s neglected childhood (baby Lily blowing out candles on a birthday cake, tween Lily playing basketball, etc.), it’s as if Lily is finally getting the validation and love from her father. Too bad this Bob isn’t actually biologically related to her.

Meanwhile, Leguizamo’s Bob is dealing with his own issues. His marriage to his loving wife (Rachel Bay Jones) has been stunted ever since the loss of their infant son, and Bob tries to stifle any pain by overworking for his racist boss. Lily’s presence comes at the right time for Bob, too.

Lily and Bob 2.0 do eventually meet up, and Bob’s inherent kindness dismantles Lily’s desperate approval-seeking behavior. Sure, Lily has boundary issues, but her life story makes her would-be therapist in training cry (and seek her own psychiatric help) after just one session. After Lily shares with Bob how her father got rid of her childhood dog and blamed an eight-year-old her for “abusing” it, Bob brings her to an animal shelter to connect with a puppy. Bob knows what Lily needs, and there is never any undercurrent of discomfort: These are just two people looking for familial love, and they have found it in each other.

“Bob Trevino Likes It” is a tearjerker of a film, but it’s grounded in the fact that it’s also a true story based on first-time feature writer-director Tracie Laymon’s own encounter with a Bob Laymon. Leguizamo may give one of his career-best performances in the feature, but it’s Ferreira’s surprising command onscreen that is the most memorable. With this feature, she proves her own talent is among that of her A-list “Euphoria” co-stars Sydney Sweeney, Jacob Elordi, and Zendaya.

Ferreira may have been sidelined in “Euphoria” Season 2, but with “Bob,” her range is evident. Ferreira sobs hysterically, spouts horrific recounts of an abusive childhood, and slowly opens up, all in the span of a two-hour film. It’s a quiet movie, one whose tension is found in waiting to see just how far Lily and Bob will take their quasi daughter-father relationship (will Lily finally meet Bob’s wife? Will both Bobs finally cross paths?). Do we “like” it? We love it.

Rating: B+

“Bob Trevino Likes It” premiered at the 2024 SXSW Film & TV Festival. It is currently seeking U.S. distribution.

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