Going to miss the Oscars this year? You might as well just watch Bobby. The film may not be an award winner, but it stars just about every actor you can think of. Of course, one wonders where Charlie Sheen is, since the movie is directed by his brother Emilio Estevez and also features his father Martin Sheen.
Bobby takes a look at the final day of Robert F. Kennedy's life, but does not look at Robert F. Kennedy. Instead, Estevez weaves his way through a variety of random characters who are all at the hotel where RFK will eventually be assassinated. The characters range from a girl (Lindsey Lohan) who is marrying a boy (Elijah Wood) in her class to keep him out of Vietnam to a couple of young men looking to score drugs from a hippie Ashton Kutcher to a husband (Sheen) and wife (Helen Hunt) staying at the hotel to a retired employee (Anthony Hopkins) of the establishment who doesn't want to let go to a bus boy (Freddy Rodriguez) who has to give up his tickets to a Dodgers game to a coworker (Laurence Fishburne) to a hotel manager (William H. Macy) who is cheating on his wife (Sharon Stone) with an employee (Heather Graham) and who has also come to realize that one of his top employees (Christian Slater) is a racist. Run on sentence alert!
The movie is a strong effort by Estevez, who has all but dropped off the face of the planet since his Mighty Duck days. He too has a few scenes alongside Demi Moore. He effectively captures the sentiments of the time and does a great job of paralleling the issues then with what is going on now. His narrative on Mexican subservience to Vietnam comparisons to Iraq play well without being too in-your-face, and he also establishes a high energy mood that makes me wonder what has happened to American politics. Having grown up long after RFK was around, I cannot even imagine a political atmosphere where people are so energized for one candidate. The thought that there are no great politicians these days is rather depressing.
All that being said, the movie doesn't completely connect on an emotion level. The movie is strong, but not especially powerful, and those looking for a more detailed look at RFK's life will be disappointed. While Estevez does a good job in splicing real shots of RFK into his picture (a la Forrest Gump), there is no actor who actually portrays RFK, nor is the movie about RFK. The movie, after all, is about the people who were affected by RFK's death, both physically and mentally.
The movie, of course, picks up pace once it reaches evening and you know the time is near for RFK to meet his fate. This ten minutes or so is where Estevez truly shows his capabilities. The sequence is very intense and full of energy, and very shocking even though you know what is going to happen.
Great acting doesn't quite make up for the fact that Bobby is essentially an ensemble piece that really doesn't have much of a plot other than that all of the characters will eventually end up witnessing the assassination of another Kennedy. Estevez has made a quality film, but it is not a film that can compete with the more powerful dramas that are inevitably going to hit before the end of the year.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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