“Bobby Dogs” is a well-intended, earnest little indie from Connecticut about a recovering alcoholic who attempts to rebuild his life through an entrepreneurial endeavor involving a hot dog business. Needless to say, getting the road to recovery has its surplus of potholes – but the support of friends and a great relish recipe suggest that the ex-inebriate hero has a future in frankfurters.
If the film has a strong sense of been-there/done-that in regard to its screenplay (complete with the obligatory black sidekick), it has a secret weapon in the astonishing performance of Mike Boland as the eponymous Bobby. A big bear of a man who is capable of instant mood swings from playful joy to heart-crushing sorrow, Boland invests the role with a level of sincerity and anguish that gives “Bobby Dogs” a much-needed depth and scope. Small bits of business – his embarrassed explanation of his shabby basement apartment as just being “temporary” or the look of emotional deflation when his initial dream of owning a restaurant is dashed by a ridiculous financial hurdle – are handled with subtle grace, turning Bobby into a fully textured character.
Even when it’s obvious where the film is heading, Boland’s unpredictable talent ultimately makes this a memorable and moving experience.