Bobby (2006)

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Review #319 of 365
Movie Review of Bobby (2006) [R] 120 minutes
WIP™ Scale: $12.75
Where Viewed: Colorado Cinemas Cherry Creek 8, Denver, CO
When 1st Seen: 26 November 2006
Time: 9:50 p.m.
Film's Official Website
DVD Release Date: unscheduled

Directed by: Emilio Estevez (The War at Home)
Written by: Emilio Estevez (That Was Then... This Is Now)

Featured Cast [grouped by sub-plot] (Where You Might Remember Him/Her From):
Harry Belafonte (White Man's Burden) • Anthony Hopkins (All the King's Men) / Emilio Estevez (The Mighty Ducks) • Demi Moore (Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle) • David Krumholtz ("Numb3rs") / William H. Macy (Everyone's Hero) • Christian Slater (Mindhunters) • Sharon Stone (Basic Instinct 2) • Heather Graham (The OH in Ohio) • Joy Bryant (Get Rich or Die Tryin') / Laurence Fishburne (Akeelah and the Bee) • Freddy Rodríguez (Harsh Times) • Jacob Vargas (Jarhead) / Joshua Jackson ("Dawson's Creek") • Nick Cannon (Monster House) • Svetlana Metkina (Mini's First Time) / Helen Hunt (What Women Want) • Martin Sheen (The Departed) / Lindsay Lohan (A Prairie Home Companion) • Elijah Wood (Happy Feet) / Brian Geraghty (The Guardian) • Shia LaBeouf (A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints) • Ashton Kutcher (The Guardian) • Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Final Destination 3) / Dave Fraunces • David Kobzantsev

Soundtrack: order the CD below

Click for 'Review Lite' [a 150-word or less review of this film]
In thinking about Emilio Estevez, son of Martin Sheen, and an actor people of my generation grew up with thanks to The Outsiders, St. Elmo's Fire, Young Guns, and Mighty Ducks, it occurred to me that people of my generation were born in early to mid-60s and the triple assignations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Bobby Kennedy happened in a tumultuous time when the USA was enveloped in civil rights marches and the Vietnam war. The hippy movement was born. A lot of young people were turning to drugs to escape a world that seemed both grim and hopeless. The government seemed to be operating in near total opposition to the will of the majority of young people. All three men, icons of hope and future for the a nation that had really begun to lose its way, were killed and with them an ideal for a future democratic nation that would lead the world by example in progressive, peaceful, inclusive, diverse, earth-centered, ways. When the lights in their souls were extinguished, though it seems that no one at the time was really able to comprehend the effect or impact, there was a decidedly horrible change in the pulse of the nation. It seems like the people took one of two routes: give up and become greedy to the point of ridiculousness or completely divest and just live life doing what little one could but not really believing that it would really matter in the end. For kids of these parents, kids in my generation, people like Emilio Estevez, grew up with very mixed messages. We were led to believe that the greatest force of evil on the planet were the nuclear-missile hoarding Communists of China and the USSR. We grew up hearing of the great Kennedy Bros. and Dr. King, but we never actually knew who they were or what they meant to our parents. We grew up with impressions or labels for the decades: 60s Beatles / Hippies / Anarchy, 70s Disco / Nixon / Bicentennial / Gas Rationing, 80s Reaganism / Iran Contra / Punk. Ironically enough, the 90s and the Clinton era was probably the first time in our lives that we started to feel like being a USAer was a good thing and something of which we could be proud. Sure enough, the powers that be, those working behind the scenes all the time, ruined that with an idiotic impeachment process to soil the reputation of Clinton due to his indiscretions with a White House intern, an incident that, by comparison of today's world seem petty and juvenile and never would have become public were it not for the illegal tape recording of conversations by Linda Tripp in the first place, plummeting us back into this ethereal fog of existence from which we had only just escaped. Despite recent victories in the government to force some change, it's easy to see why, after the past six years, people of my generation have literally no idea what is going on in our country, and we never really have. Ever since we were born, the government and the media has been telling us who our enemies are. We've never been able to understand why we would be the enemies of anyone, and they keep changing the enemy every time things happen that prove the enemies not to be the true enemies. Sort of like how they've changed their stance on the healthiness of butter, eggs, and milk twelve times in our lifetimes. Given all that, I salute Emilio Estevez for even attempting to sit down and make some sense out of the assassination of Bobby Kennedy for people of my generation. I cannot speak that well for the impact on previous or post generations, for I know that his assassination would hold very different meanings for those people. For people of my generation, the film does a few things. First, it sets the historical context to remind us when this happened. Emilio Estevez was 6 years old. I was 3. People of my generation were just little kids. We had no idea who these people were or what they were doing in the world. So, for us, to be able to listen to Bobby Kennedy's speeches and get a sense for the impact he had on our nation at a time when we were too young to know what was what. We didn't know RFK, JFK,or MLK Jr. Through stories, they have become symbols for what the USA could have and should have become, but the magnetism of these men has dwindled into little more than hearsay. I admire the fact that Emilio Estevez took on the challenge of writing and directing a complicated story that would try to coalesce so many of the social, moral, and ethical problems of 1968 into one film tied, sadly to these ultra-tragic assassinations. By the end of the film, I was in tears not just over the assassination of RFK but also over all that our nation could have become had he not been killed and ultimately became president. Maybe it would not have taken another 20 years for our nation to get back on its feet, and maybe the young people would not have become so jaded with government as to take one of the aforementioned paths resulting in them emerging the as by far and away the worst leaders in our nation's history.

"…writer / director Estevez gets an A+ for ambition…, but he gets a C+ for not realizing that the scope of the project, once on film, would not accomplish his goals well."
As for the film itself, it is an impacting experience, but it is also full of problems likely more due to the overly ambitious nature of the writing and filmmaking than anything else, and this was ambitious because Mr. Estevez must have had to do an incredible amount of research just to get the look and feel for the period down. The idea for the plot was to use the various guests and employees of the Ambassador Hotel in California to reveal the many moral and social values at odds in the USA at the time, and then lead to the assassination of the Senator at the hotel. This required the creation of many, many characters and an elaborate way of linking them all together for the gun battle in the hotel kitchen where many would be shot by Sirhan Sirhan but only Kennedy would die. Mr. Estevez is not exactly Martin Scorsese or Steven Spielberg when it comes to directing. He is, mostly, very inexperienced, so to write, direct, and then act in this film may also have been overly ambitious. For, in the end, he lost a bit of perspective. It may not have occurred to him that his script gives us way too little about way too many characters. There are eight interlocking stories going on in the hotel and it's not always obvious who these people are or why they should be important.

  • the elder hotel manager, John Casey (Anthony Hopkins), plays chess with his aging friend Nelson (Harry Belafonte)

  • hotel lounge crooner Virginia Fallon (Demi Moore) wars over her drinking with husband Tim Fallon (Emilio Estevez) while manager Phil (David Krumholtz) works to get them gigs in Vegas

  • Hotel manager Paul (William H. Macy) discovers that food and beverage manager Timmons (Christian Slater) has forbidden his crews time off to vote, fires him, and meanwhile has an affair with hotel operator Angela (Heather Graham) much to the chagrin of her best friend Patricia (Joy Bryant) right under the nose of hotel beautician, Miriam (Sharon Stone) who is also Paul's wife.

  • Hotel head chef Edward Robinson (Laurence Fishburne) mingles with busboys and kitchen staffers the once and future king José (Freddy Rodríguez) and Miguel (Jacob Vargas) teaching them his life's wisdom by ransoming his blueberry cobbler.

  • Campaign staffer Wade (Joshua Jackson) worries constantly that things will go wrong on this tour and in the California primary but is cajoled by best friend, Dwayne (Nick Cannon) as he avoids setting up a meeting with Czechosolvokian reporter, Lenka Janacek (Svetlana Metkina) with the Senator.

  • Samantha (Helen Hunt) and Jack (Martin Sheen) are campaign patrons planning to attend the fund-raising ball to see Kennedy win the CA primary.

  • William (Elijah Wood), a recently drafted young man, has convinced Diane (Lindsay Lohan to marry him so his tour of duty will be in Germany rather than the front lines of Vietnam.

  • Jimmy (Shia LeBeouf) and Cooper (Brian Geraghty) are assigned to knock and dors and bring out the vote for Kennedy in California but instead spend their time hanging out at the hotel flirting with coffee shop waitress Susan Taylor (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and buying drugs from Fisher (Ashton Kutcher).

Of these, the stories of José and William and Diane are probably the ones with the most promise and overall significance to the film. The rest do their jobs, but with characters and portrayals so confined and reduced by time constraints as render them nearly tedious. Had Mr. Estevez cut the number of stories to four, focused on them more intently, brought out the same points with more impact, the film would have played far better. Either that, or he should have turned this into a 5-episode mini-series. Either would have afforded him the opportunity to vastly improve the impact of the film for we would have been able to care so much more for each of the characters and what was going on in their lives as windows into USA culture at the time. This is the kind of thing a more-experienced director likely would have realized. When you write something yourself, however, it is far more difficult to see what to cut, where, and why. You become attached to every character and see his or her relevance in ways the audience never can. So, writer / director Estevez gets an A+ for ambition and for trying to create a period drama that would both reveal the state of the nation at the time as well as bring out the impact of the assassinations on the populace overall, but he gets a C+ for not realizing that the scope of the project, once on film, would not accomplish his goals well in the present form.

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Related Products from
Other Projects Featuring Bobby (2006)
Cast Members
Harry BelafonteAnthony HopkinsEmilio Estevez
Demi MooreDavid KrumholtzWilliam Macy
Christian SlaterSharon StoneHeather Graham
Joy BryantLaurence FishburneFreddy Rodríguez
Jacob VargasJoshua JacksonNick Cannon
Svetlana MetkinaHelen HuntMartin Sheen
Lindsay LohanElijah WoodBrian Geraghty
Shia LaBeoufAshton KutcherMary Winstead
Dave FrauncesDavid Kobzantsev
Writer / Director
Emilio Estevez

Bobby (2006) Review-lite [150-word cap]
Bobby is an impacting experience, full of problems likely due to the ambitious nature of the writing and directing Emilio Estevez undertook to illustrate to his generation, one that was just kids when JFK, MLK Jr. and RFK were assassinated, the impact and the ways in which these assasinations changed the political landscape of the USA forever. Utilizing eight, interlocking stories of employees or guests of the Ambassador Hotel on the day of the assassination of RFK, the script gives us way too little about way too many characters. The cast of 'thousands' effect leads to cameo roles or character sketches by Anthony Hopkins, Harry Belafonte, Demi Moore, Sharon Stone, William H. Macy, Laurence Fishburne, Martin Sheen, Helen Hunt, Lindsay Lohan, and Elijah Wood, just to name a few. The result is a film that's just too big and ultimately tedious to have the desired impact.

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