What a fitting little flick that is conviently coming out smack dab in the middle of Oscar season. A film sporting a large ensemble cast with many well known actors, as well as a number of up and coming young actors, all about what happened during the day and the night of the assassination of Mr. Robert F. Kennedy. Put this film to your ear and it shouts Oscar. . .
Right. . . ?
Not in this case. "Bobby" is nothing new, and in the end it tries way to hard to be uplifting and inspirational. It draws so many obvious influences from the late Robert Altman, or even Paul Thomas Anderson to a lesser extent, only without any of the heart and soul that both of those film makers would have invested in their characters. Perhap it's because Emilio Estevez isn't the person that should have made it, I don't know. But in the end, "Bobby" failed to make me sympathic to anything that was happening on screen, or to the twenty two or so characters it is about, and by the end I was just hoping that the gun man who killed Kennedy would just pop up early, and not only plug the hopeful president, but about half of the ensemble in general. And then I could go home and not have to endure another minute of this so called "Oscar contender."
"Bobby" ends up not being about the actual president hopeful, but about a large group of unrelated people that are staying the hotel that he was killed in. On June 5, 1968, shortly after winning the Democractic primary in California, it seemed that Kennedy was a niche to being nominated for President. And his preisdency would be coming at the perfect time, as America spirals down towards the beginning of new decade-and hopefully one that isn't as bad as the 60's. Kennedy is coming to the Ambassador Hotel, where it all ends. And residing at the hotel is a wide group of people-all going through their own little personal crisis. There is John Casey(Anthony Hopkins), a previous doorman at the hotel who still decides to haunt the floors and lobby. He is getting ready to play his regular chess game with Nelson(Harry Belafonte). There is Tim Fallen(Emilio Estevez), who has to live with his wife Virginia(Demi Moore), a lounge singer who can't seem to stop drinking. There is Miriam(Sharon Stone), who owns and operates a salon in the hotel. Her husband, and the manager of the hotel, Paul(William H. Macy) is trying to end his affair with the much younger Angela(Heather Graham), a switchboard operator. There is Samantha(Helen Hunt) who tells her husband Jack(Martin Sheen) that she forgot her black shoes at home and needs to go shopping for new ones. There is Diane(Lindsey Lohan) who is prepared to marry her friend William(Elijah Wood), so that if he is drafted he will have to go overseas, but he wouldn't get sent to Vietnam. There is Jose(Freddy Rodríguez) a busboy who has just learned that he has to do a full shift-which puts a damper on his plans to see the baseball game that night. So he sells the tickets to Edward(Laurence Fishburne), a chef who luckily gets to leave early. There's Timmons(Christian Slater), the manager of Food and Beverage at the hotel who is refusing to let the kitchen staff go to vote, which results in Paul firing him. There's Lenka(Svetlana Metkina), a reporter who is dying to get an interview with Kennedy, so she continues to try and persuade the campaign manager Wade(Joshua Jackson) to give her one. And then there's pretty waitress Susan(Mary Elizabeth Winstead), who discusses life and politics with two more of the campaign volenteers Cooper and Jimmy(Shia LaBeouf and Brian Geraghty,) who eventually decide to experiment with various drugs from Fisher(Aston Kutcher). This entire group of people all interconnect with one another as the big night for Kennedy to give his speech comes closer and closer.
Now I love all of these movies with big ensemble casts, with all these characters lives connecting together. Sadly, "Bobby" does not have a need for this many stories. Think about it. Read the plot summary above, and look at all the stories. Is it neccessary to include a story where Helen Hunt needs shoes? I could see the relevance of some of the others-Hopkins as the past of the hotel haunting the hallways, the young experimenting with drugs, the two young friends who find love because of the state that the country is in, the racist kitchen manager who is living in the past when we should be taking a step forward-but I can't seem to care about the failing marriage of Moore and Estevez. In addition, because of the under two hour running time, there was never any depth to any of the stories, and they all just came to a standstill, especially during the big Kennedy speech. The Kennedy speech was done with a five minute montage. It alternates between his speaking, archieve footage, and the rest of the cast nodding in agreement with what Kennedy says. And then there was the soundtrack during this-Simon and Garfunkels "The Sound of Silence." Now I love that song, but the addition of that with the rest of the scene probably made this the most tedious and horrid scene in any film that I have seen this year.
Maybe "Bobby" could have been saved. Maybe if Estevez didn't get too pretentious and cut out some of his material(and I can't stress how pointless the Helen Hunt/Martin Sheen plot was). Maybe if he gave all of the remaining stories a little more relevance to the time period, and reasons why Kennedy is important to them. It's an ambitious work, and definetely has potential, but is so wrapped up in how "brilliant" and "insightful" it is trying to be that it clearly misses the mark. Not a complete waste of time, but is for the most part. Go out and rent an Altman film instead-you'll get much more out of it.