I never even heard of the movie Bobby when it was released on Thanksgiving weekend 2006, which is surprising given all the big-name stars attached to the project. In fact, the all-star cast was the only reason I decided to rent this DVD at all, since I figured that a film starring Anthony Hopkins, Martin Sheen, Helen Hunt, Laurence Fishburne, Harry Belafonte, Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher, Sharon Stone, Lindsay Lohan, Elijah Wood, Emilio Estevez, Heather Graham, Joshua Jackson, Shia LaBeouf, William H. Macy, Freddy Rodriguez, and Christian Slater would have to be decent.
Well, I quickly learned that even a roomful of powerhouse actors isn’t enough to make a movie great — especially if the screenplay is fundamentally flawed, as I think this one is. What a disappointment!
Plot summary (with possible spoilers): Robert F. Kennedy was campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination when he was gunned down in the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, CA on June 5, 1968. His assassination shocked a nation that was still reeling from the Martin Luther King, Jr. assassination just two months before, as well as from President John F. Kennedy’s assassination five years earlier.
Instead of focusing on Bobby Kennedy’s politics or personal life, writer/director Emilio Estevez decided to base his film on the lives of a number of random, fictional people who were staying or working at the Ambassador Hotel on that fateful day. Interspersed with scenes of these people going about their regular daily routines, viewers also get newsreel footage of a few Bobby Kennedy speeches and interviews.
The film then culminates with RFK’s assassination, and ends without reflecting on the impact the event had for any of the people viewers had just spent two hours getting to know.
My Reaction: Bobby was one of the most disappointing films I’ve ever sat through! Going into my viewing, I had no idea what angle Estevez would be telling the story from, so I just had to scratch my head in puzzlement when I realized he was introducing all of these fictional characters. What was the point? Why bother forcing the audience to get to know these people when none of them played a role in the assassination or the aftermath? To make it worse, Estevez didn’t follow up on any of these lives, so we don’t know how these people changed as a result of the event they witnessed.
About halfway through the film, I started thinking that there had to be a twist somewhere, that Estevez wouldn’t simply meander through the whole thing without a big payoff. But no, nothing ever tied any of the characters together in ways that weren’t evident from the beginning. As a result, the most interesting part of Bobby was the archive footage of the real RFK talking. I probably would have been better off watching an A&E biography instead.
Overall, Bobby turned out to be an overlong, rambling, disjointed film that wasted the considerable talent of all the actors involved. It wasn’t powerful, moving, or thought-provoking; just boring and tiresome. I give it 2 stars out of 5.