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Bobby (2006)

DVD Cover (The Weinstein Company)
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5.7
 / 10
2 votes
Genres:
Docudrama, Drama, Ensemble Film, Political Drama
Director:
Emilio Estevez Emilio Estevez
Starring:
Harry Belafonte Harry Belafonte
Joy Bryant Joy Bryant
Nick Cannon Nick Cannon
Emilio Estevez Emilio Estevez
Laurence Fishburne Laurence Fishburne
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Review by bluemeanie
Added: December 19, 2006
What happened to Emilio Estevez? At one point in his career, he was considered Hollywood A-list, the star of hits like "Stakeout", "Young Guns", "The Mighty Ducks" and "Mission: Impossible". His career never really took a downward slide. He just disappeared. His last mainstream theatrical release came in 1996 with "The War At Home", which he also directed. He starred in some made-for-television films like "Rated X" with his brother, but seemed to sort of 'retire' from mainstream acting roles. What was he doing? Most speculation indicates that he was busy writing and preparing what would become "Bobby", based on the day that Robert F. Kennedy was shot at the Ambassador Hotel in California. Who knows why Estevez is so entranced with this infamous day in history. Who knows why Estevez disappeared from Hollywood, only to emerge a decade later with a star-studded historical biopic. Nothing in this scenario is ordinary. It's all a little strange. But, that doesn't mean we still don't love Emilio Estevez. I do. I love him for films that weren't as mainstream, like "Judgment Night" and "Men At Work", the sequel "Another Stakeout", and even the hilarious "National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon 1". I am glad Emilio is back, and I am even more thrilled that his re-emergence, "Bobby", is actually a pretty decent little flick.

The film takes place on June 6, 1968, the day that Senator Robert F. Kennedy was shot during his bid for the White House. We see the action through the eyes of the men and women renting rooms at the Ambassador Hotel, a gorgeous facility that would go down in history as the place where another Kennedy lost his life. The structure itself is best represented in the role of John Casey (Anthony Hopkins), who has worked at the hotel most of his life. Now, retired and with his wife deceased, he still spends his days at the hotel, playing chess and having a drink with anyone who might have a few moments to spare. Along with Senator Kennedy, the Ambassador is temporary home to performer Virginia Fallon (Demi Moore), a boozed up has-been who is mean to everyone, including her husband Tim (Emilio Estevez), her manager (David Krumholtz), and the hotel's hairdresser (Sharon Stone), whose husband, the hotel manager (William H. Macy) happens to be having an affair with a lady who works the hotel's phones (Heather Graham). Brian Geraghty and Shai LaBeouf portray two young campaigners for Kennedy who take time off from running the polls to trip on acid with a seedy hippie (Ashton Kutcher). Martin Sheen and Helen Hunt are an older couple who seem to have a loving relationship, though Hunt is more worried about the color of her shoes than the state of the union. Joshua Jackson and Nick Cannon are two heads of the California Democratic Party, Lindsay Lohan is a young woman marrying a high school friend (Elijah Wood) so he won't get sent to Vietnam, and Freddy Rodriguez is a young kitchen worker who wants badly to see the Dodgers play, but gets roped into working a double shift instead. There are far more characters than this unusually long paragraph illuminates, so watch the film and see them all.

One of the problems with "Bobby" is that there are so many characters, and some of them seem a little superfluous. Martin Sheen and Helen Hunt have zero relevance to the story, as do Joy Bryant, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Harry Belafonte, Svetlana Metkina and David Krumholtz. Why were these characters even present? As much as I enjoyed Helen Hunt and Martin Sheen, they seemed just underused and pointless as characters. I also had a problem with some of the dialogue in the film. Emilio Estevez might be a fine director, but he has a ways to go as a writer. There are several scenes in this film that are so goofball cheesy, I almost laughed, as when Laurence Fishburne tells Freddy Rodriguez that he is a 'noble prince', or when Elijah Wood decides he can't marry Lindsay Lohan because he would be taking something 'sacred' away from her. Estevez's cheesiness, thank goodness, is equaled by hi directorial style, his attention to certain characters, and his flawless final act of the film. The final half hour of "Bobby" is some of the finest film work of the year, hands down, and I only wish the preceding minutes had been as mesmerizing. The worst character in the film was that of the Czech reporter (Svetlana Metkina) who is dying for five minutes with the Senator, even though she works for a Socialist government. I kept wanting to identify with her, but in 1968, I don't think I would be letting a Socialist journalist interview the future President either.

Now, to the good...and there was actually quite a bit. As mentioned earlier, Estevez is a smart director, and though things got too sappy at points, he balanced it out and managed to make all of the characters, for the most part, likable. The one exception would be Christian Slater's character, though he tries to redeem himself a couple of times, only to revert back almost immediately. In terms of performances, there are some dandy ones. After a long break, Demi Moore is in fine form as the former goddess of the stage who now plays to sold out bottles of Scotch. Sharon Stone also turns in some of her best work as the hairdresser who learns her husband is having an affair. Moore and Stone have an especially touching scene together. Anthony Hopkins brought tears to my eyes at one point as the aging doorman who can't leave the place that has become his home. Joshua Jackson, Nick Cannon, Shai LaBeouf and Brian Geraghty offer fine ensemble work also, but it is William H. Macy who really delivers as he underplays the hell out of the role, and still manages to evoke more humanity than most of the others around him. But, I do want to single out Emilio Estevez's performance in the film, as it will most certainly go under-appreciated. Though his character is not central to the film, as a whole, he plays the role very well and goes to show that his gift for performing is still in fine shape, along with his flair for writing and directing.

On the whole, "Bobby" is an entertaining piece of cinema that turned out to be much better than I thought it would be. The second act of the film is far better than the first, and it does get a little too sappy and preachy at points, but for the most part, it hits the nail on the head. The death of Robert Kennedy signaled the end of an era that brought about peace, love and understanding. It signaled the end of a time when America still held on to the tiniest pieces of innocence. After John Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. were killed - he was the last hope for a lot of people, and this film chronicles their faith in him, and the shattering of that faith upon his assassination. I appreciated Estevez's decision to pay very little attention to the man who shot Robert Kennedy. Paying him attention would not have done the man, nor the film, much justice at all. "Bobby" was engrossing, inspiring and wholly enjoyable. I don't quite think it was one of the best pictures of the year, but it might very well make my honorable mention section for several obvious reasons. Check this film out before it leaves theatres. At the very least, you can play 'spot the celebrity'.

8/10.
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