In ‘Bob Trevino Likes It,’ a ‘Euphoria‘ Star Finds Herself a New Dad on Facebook

John Rosario/Chosen Family, LLC
John Rosario/Chosen Family, LLC

Whatever the opposite of catfishing is, that's what happens in Bob Trevino Likes It. Normally, when you hear a story about a young woman meeting a man on Facebook, the ending is usually horrifying, dangerous, and terrible. The beats are usually the same: The man is much older than he said he was. He’s not the person he looked like in his profile photo. He’s a scammer. Or, the worst case scenario: He’s threatening, and he plans on somehow hurting the young woman.

But none of these nightmares occur in Bob Trevino Likes It, a delightful—and, surprisingly, based on a true story—movie that premiered at this year’s SXSW Film Festival on Saturday. Based on writer/director Tracie Lymon’s real-life events, the comedy follows a young woman who finds a father figure in a random man who happens to have the same name as her real dad. She finds and friends him on Facebook, and after he starts liking all her posts—hence the title—the pair start chatting online.

At 25, Lily Trevino (Barbie Ferreira of Euphoria) struggles to connect with her erratic father Bob (French Stewart), who often estranges himself from his daughter in public, tantrum-like episodes. She walks on eggshells around him, careful not to tease him for his weird online dating habits—he uses Facebook to stalk women and playfully judge their appearances around Lily—or upset him in any way. Lily is usually good at toeing the line, but after she mistakes one of Bob’s dates for another woman he’s been seeing at the same time, Bob blows up and removes his daughter from his life.

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This happens from time to time, although Lily constantly blames herself for it, attempting to earn forgiveness by taking all the blame. Ferreira makes for a strong leading lady, great at comedic timing but full of emotional resonance in these sad scenes about a twentysomething struggling with parental trauma. Lily calls her dad over and over again, but he calls the police when she shows up at his home. Then, she uses Facebook—since that’s the only social media Lily knows he’s on—to attempt another line of communication.

Most of the Bob Trevinos on Facebook have profile photos to prove they’re not Lily’s dad, but one avatarless account grabs Lily’s attention. She friends him, and he almost immediately accepts. Could this be her dad? Nope; it’s a different Bob (John Leguizamo), Lily learns from photos on his account. But Lily, at wits’ end with her complete lack of family—her mother died when she was a baby—still sees this as an opportunity. “Hi! Are we related?” Lily asks in a direct message. “My name is Lily Trevino.” (We later learn that these are almost the exact messages Tracie Laymon really sent to Bob Laymon years ago.)

Even though they don’t share any scenes together until around the midway point of the film, Leguizamo and Ferreira are a perfect match. There’s none of that, “Uh, this is weird—is he flirting?” energy once the new Bob starts DMing Lily. He’s lonely, childless with a wife (Rachel Bay Jones) that’s more interested in crafting than she is in their marriage. Their chats authentically emulate a connection between someone younger and someone older, with over-emphatic messages from Lily—who is desperate for attention from a father figure—and awkward, strangely capitalized, way-too-punctuated memos from Bob.

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Once the pair actually meet in real life—which is brilliantly unceremonious: Lily needs her toilet fixed and has no dad to help—Bob Trevino slows down a bit to unpack just how odd this relationship is. Is this new Bob a father figure to Lily? Is he comfortable with that? There’s never a definitive answer. This is unprecedented territory. Honestly, it’s just nice to see these two strangers have a connection with no real rhyme or reason.

Ferreira and Leguizamo carry the tender story of Bob Trevino, which feels like a lighter version of Kogonada’s Columbus. They are an odd pairing, but it’s these unpredictable duos that often work out best. Ferreira never comes across as super-young in comparison to Bob—her roommate Daphne (Lolo Spencer) has all the chaotic youthful energy the movie needs—which makes sense, seeing as she’s had to raise herself. And Leguizamo musters up as much charm as possible in playing the new Bob in Lily’s life, so perfectly dad-like that he ought to be awarded father of the year.

Bob Trevino spins a fascinating story into a superb movie with stellar performances from its two leading stars. Lyman takes what could’ve been a kooky relationship between two people and turns it into a wonderfully non-cheesy tale of friendship and found family, as inspirational as it is hysterical. Watching Bob Trevino Likes It feels like hearing a side-splitting story from a loved one, told with care and charisma. Without too much effort, treasures like these never fail to leave a smile on your face.

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