Bobby - DVD review

Bobby follows the stories of 22 fictional characters in Los Angeles’ Ambassador Hotel on the night of June 4th 1968, when Presidential hopeful Senator Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated moments after claiming victory in the crucial California primary.

Director Emilio Estevez interweaves a dozen separate storylines as party-goers, performers, hotel employees and campaigners descend on the hotel in preparation for the big night.

Among those involved are a young bride-to-be (Lohan) who is about to marry one of her friends (Wood) to save him from going to Vietnam; a Latino worker (Rodriguez) desperately trying to get out of his shift to watch the World Series decider; and a stifled switchboard operator (Graham) who has embarked on an illicit affair with the hotel manager (Macy) in the hope of getting a promotion.

After showing early promise in the 80s with St. Elmo’s Fire and The Breakfast Club Emilio Estevez eventually became a bit of a joke in Hollywood, and after his third Mighty Ducks film was virtually unemployable (he also married American Idol nutcase Paula Abdul, and the less said about that the better).

But after nearly a decade in the wilderness he is back as the writer, director, and co-star of Bobby, a multi-stranded polemic reminiscent of the work of the recently deceased Robert Altman.

Backed by his father (Sheen) and producer Anthony Hopkins, Estevez has assembled an astonishing array of acting talent but, curiously, this is one of the main problems with the movie.

Trying to cram 22 big name stars into the story means that it is impossible for Estevez to flesh out all of the characters efficiently, and some appear to have no function whatsoever other than to get another famous face on screen.

The “comic” interludes featuring an LSD-popping Ashton Kutcher are also an unnecessary distraction that take away vital screen time from the more important plot strands and clash with the tone of the rest of the film.

Demi Moore tells us in the “Making of” featurette that "the message is love..." and she’s not kidding.

Everyone from Anthony Hopkins to Lindsay Lohan (two legends of modern American cinema) bang on about how great a man Kennedy was, although they fail to tell us anything that the movie itself hasn’t already done.

More interesting is Estevez’s (who everyone seems to love just as much as Bob) struggle to bring this very personal story to the big screen, and after a decade in the wilderness it’s good to see him finally back in the spotlight.

A round-up of eyewitness accounts from The Ambassador Hotel complete the package.

Verdict

Structural weaknesses aside, however, Bobby is a worthy work of faction that successfully recreates the sense of political optimism that Kennedy’s assault on the White House caused.

Estevez also draws clear parallels between Lyndon B. Johnson’s war in Vietnam and today’s struggles in Iraq, warning us that America’s troubles on foreign soil are far from over.

Rating: 15
Staring: Emilio Estevez, Martin Sheen, Laurence Fishburne, Lindsay Lohan, Christian Slater, Freddy Rodriguez, Demi Moore, Sharon Stone, William H. Macy, Anthony Hopkins, Heather Graham, Helen Hunt, Elijah Wood, Harry Belafonte, Joshua Jackson, Ashton Kutcher
Directed by: Emilio Estevez
Extras: The Making Of Bobby, Eyewitness Accounts from The Ambassador Hotel