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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Bobby

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Judy Thorburn

"Bobby" - Gets Lost In The Crowded Storyline

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"BOBBY" GETS LOST IN THE CROWDED STORYLINE

Flick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil

The sixties was a turbulent era. Political, racial and social unrest, the War in Viet Nam, sexism and a counter culture were just a few signs of the times in a nation that was hungry for a hero to unite America and make everything right. It was also during that decade that President Kennedy and Martin Luther King were assassinated. When Robert Kennedy announced his candidacy for the presidency in March of 1968, he represented hope and change in a new, more positive direction. That dream for Americans and an idealistic generation who saw him as a possible “savior” would never be fulfilled for, as we all know, he was gunned down and killed by a lone assassin named Sirhan Sirhan shortly after winning the California primary.

Unfortunately, Emilio Esteves’ Bobby is less about the political icon and more about a glimpse into the lives of an assortment of fictionalized characters that were in the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles that fateful day in June of 1968 when RFK was mortally wounded only to die 22 hours later. In bringing his vision of that day back to life, Esteves, the film’s writer and director has gathered some of his best Hollywood buddies, and his father, Martin Sheen, all renowned actors to portray some of the more than 20 characters that represent a cross section of America in regards to sex, culture, race and class. In no particular order of appearance the eclectic bunch of characters that make up the various sub plots include William Macy as Paul Ebbers, the general manager of the Ambassador Hotel. Though married to Miriam, a beautician in the hotel salon portrayed by Sharon Stone, he is having an affair with one of the hotel’s pretty young switchboard operators, Angela, played by Heather Graham. Christian Slater is Timmons, Ebber’s Food and Beverage manager who is fired for his racist attitude toward the kitchen staff. Jacob Vargas is one of the kitchen staff, an angry Mexican who bumps heads with co-worker, busboy Jose, played by Freddie Rodriguez. Both are forced to work double shifts, and Jose is disappointed because he must give up his baseball tickets to what would be an historical game. Lawrence Fishbourne is the kitchen’s Chef, a proud black man who spouts words of wisdom to his co-workers to help them deal with racial prejudice. Upstairs in the hotel, we are introduced to Anthony Hopkins as recently widowed John Casey, a retired hotel doorman who is obviously lonely and spends his time playing chess in the hotel lobby and talking about the good old days with friend and fellow retiree played by Harry Belafonte. Going upstairs to people staying at the hotel, we meet Diane played by Lindsay Lohan, a young woman eager to marry a fellow classmate William, portrayed by Elijah Wood, so he wouldn’t be sent to Viet Nam. Martin Sheen and Helen Hunt portray Jack and Samantha, a loving husband and his fashion-obsessed wife. Emilio Esteves cast himself as Tom Fallon, the emotionally and verbally abused husband of aging, alcoholic nightclub singer, Virginia Fallon played by Demi Moore (a reunion of sorts, since long ago she was briefly engaged to Esteves). Demi’s real life boy toy, er, I mean much younger hubby, Ashton Kutcher appears briefly as a dope dealing hippie (I didn’t this ridiculous subplot) who turns a couple of young nerdy Kennedy supporters, played by Shia LeBouf and Brian Geraghty, on to LSD. Closer to RFK, is Nick Cannon as Dwayne, a true believer and idealistic campaign worker who works alongside Jimmy Bobby’s campaign co-ordinator played by Joshua Jackson. Rounding out the overabundant cast of characters are a beautiful young waitress with dreams of making it as an actress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and a Czech reporter (Svetlana Metkina) who tries desperately to get an interview with Bobby.

According to information I’ve read, it took Emelio Esteves seven years to complete this screenplay and turn it into a film. I certainly admire his ambition and sincerity in trying to re-create the atmosphere of that era and what was going on at the hotel several hours leading up to the horrendous event. His use of actual archival footage of RFK on the campaign trail and his recorded speeches that are occasionally interspersed into the movie lend emotional impact and should bring some clarity to today’s younger generation who were not around at the time and may not realize what he stood for. Or maybe it won’t, since Bobby isn’t a central screen character. The problem with Esteves’s script is although he employs a Robert Altman (who co-incidentally passed away a week before this film was released) filmmaking style with huge ensemble casts (ala Nashville or his most recent film, Prairie Home Companion), Esteves’ finished project is a mixture of mostly contrived characters, and too many at that. The two that stand out and touch a nerve are Lindsay Lohan and Elijah Wood who truly represent the anti war sentiments of the era and the fear of losing the lives of young and innocent men in an unpopular war At least their storyline parallels today’s political and emotional sentiments about the war in Iraq. But, by the end of the film we are left hanging as to how the tragic event, which took the life of Bobby might have changed their lives, or any of the other characters’ lives. What we do follow is the whereabouts of the characters as Bobby walked through the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel, and watching as many, along with Bobby, fell victim as the result of the deadly gunshots that rang out.

Don’t buy into the idea that the various subplots interconnect like Crash. The only thing anyone has in common is they were all present at the scene of the crime. Many don’t even talk about their political point of view.

For a film that is named Bobby, the title comes across more as a symbol of what we lost that day in 1968, a politician who contrasts with the political leaders of today. The tagline comes from one of his speeches when he said he “saw a wrong and tried to stop it… saw suffering and tried to heal it….saw war and tried to stop it.” Those were words from a politician whose potential was never realized when his life was cut short. Emelio Esteves’ heart might be in the right place, but his script results in a missed opportunity to evoke a story about the man with peripheral characters as a backdrop, rather than vice versa. As I left the theatre I thought about how disappointed I was with the film. Like the politician, the potential for greatness was there, but it didn’t come to be.