Solid performances and strong direction add great emotion to this film.
Too many characters and not enough Bobby. Not enough Special Features.
Filled with many fine actors Bobby (like the films of the late Robert Altman) seems intent on evoking a mood and feel of that sad day in 1968 when Robert F. Kennedy was gunned down at the Ambassador Hotel. We are shown multitudes of characters that are tied to the hotel in some way. Everyone from doormen (Anthony Hopkins), RFK canvassers (Shia LaBeouf), busboys (Freddy Rodriguez and Jacob Vargas), management (Christian Slater and William H. Macy), talent performing at the hotel (Demi Moore), hair dressers who work at the hotel (Sharon Stone) and the list goes on . Amidst all of their stories that range from social issues, to martial issues, to racial issues, Bobby leads up to that fateful moment where it seems like America might finally return to that day five years early when Robert's brother, John, was shot.
Emilio Estevez had longed to make this movie. It was a passion project of his that he put together in a grand way. It is filled with big actors, small actors, up and coming actors and, like Robert F. Kennedy, Estevez seems to give everyone a chance to shine in this film. While in some respects Bobby could certainly be seen as overly ambitious, this is the kind of movie that might best be described as an interesting failure. Even if I don't think it totally fails.
Done by Air America, these panel discussions showcase 5 people who were supporters of Robert F. Kennedy and also happened to be at the Ambassador Hotel on the night he was killed. We begin with how and why the people were there, what they did as far their political movements were concerned (some were supporters of Farm Workers, while others were there for Auto Workers, etc.), and how they worked with RFK. These are interesting if not a little bit dry and redundant.
Bobby: The Making Of an American Epic
Emilio Estevez and other members of the cast talk about how they got involved with this project, the influence of Robert F. Kennedy, and their personal experiences making this movie. Estevez also talks about the mix of fiction and nonfiction, which allowed him to navigate this world in way where he didn't have to totally adhere to how things happened. I particularly enjoyed hearing Harry Belafonte discuss working with Anthony Hopkins. Other issues are discussed like civil rights and how Bobby very much relates today's situation both in America and abroad.
Widescreen Version. Presented in a letterbox widescreen format preserving the scope aspect ratio of it's original theatrical exhibition. Enhanced for widescreen TVs. Bobby looks and feels like it's a big movie. The picture is crisp, the sets are elaborately decorated, and the clothes and props do nothing but put you back at 1968. Considering all the characters and everything that he had to pay off, I am amazed that Emilio Estevez was able to get this movie completed in 119 minutes. The images presented on this DVD look pristine without feeling overly structured.
Dolby Digital. Close Captioned. The audio on this movie seems like it was done like a Robert Altman movie. This film feels very loose and chaotic. A lot of that has to do with the sound. The scenes aren't merely actors delivering lines to move the story forward. Rather it seems like Estevez has either micced everybody or he simply let one boom microphone pick up all of the idol chatter. The soundtrack for this movie seems to meander along, and in some ways this helps the sense of foreboding. Chances are that anybody seeing this film already knows how it ends, so in a way I think it's good that Estevez didn't pull things out of left-field to take away from that.
The front cover of this DVD features images of some of the bigger members of the cast. Think Laurence Fishburne, Anthony Hopkins, Demi Moore, Heather Graham, Lindsey Lohan and others. The back features more shots of cast members like Nick Cannon, Freddy Rodriguez and even Emilio Estevez. There is a short description of what this movie is about, a Special Features listing, and technical specs.
The big problem that I had when I was watching this film is that I think Emilio Estevez created a film that was too big. I know that in showing the lives of the people that Robert F. Kennedy touched, Estevez had hoped to show him being as far reaching as possible. The problem with that is that this movie then became uneven. It focuses time that could be better spent elsewhere, on characters that it doesn't need to concentrate on. For example, I really could have done without Shia LaBeouf, Ashton Kutcher and whoever else was in that drug scene in the bedroom. If nothing else, that scene seemed like it was only in the movie because the producers (not Estevez who talked about how there was a lot of "back and forth" with the Weinstein Company) wanted to be able to hype of Ashton Kutcher's performance. It felt forced and ultimately, the imagery in that scene did this movie a disservice. There were some other characters that could have been jettisoned but this was the most glaring.
Lastly, I have a feeling Bobby is going to be one of those films that grows on me over time. It's the kind of film that I will rewatch in a few years and like a lot more. Then, I will rewatch again and like it even more. This bodes well for me but not for those people who would never view a movie more than once.
Bobby was released September 5, 2006.