BOBBY (Emilio Estevez, 2006)
As writer and director of BOBBY, Emilio Estevez tries his hand at an Altmanesque drama detailing the fictionalized goings-on at the Ambassador Hotel on June 6, 1968, the day of the California Presidential primary. Before the day was done, Robert F. Kennedy would be assassinated.
Sporting a cast that includes practically half of Hollywood, it's the kind of film that might as well introduce each of the actors with the "...and so-and-so" credit, the billing that name actors get when their involvement amounts to glorified cameos. Estevez spoons out the twenty-two recognizable faces with such regularity that it seems like an extended joke about ensemble films.
BOBBY meanders among the hotel's employees and guests in the build-up to the campaign's election night party. Along for the ride are Christian Slater as a racist running the hotel's kitchen; Freddy Rodriguez as a kitchen staff member who isn't allowed to leave work to vote or attend that night's Dodgers game; William H. Macy as the hotel manager, who's married to Sharon's Stone's hairdresser and having an affair with a switchboard operator played by Heather Graham; Lindsay Lohan and Elijah Wood as a couple marrying so he can avoid the front line in Vietnam; and Ashton Kutcher as a hippie who introduces two Kennedy staffers to LSD.
That's just a sampling of the enormous cast. Missing among this is any sense of what any of it has to do with Bobby Kennedy. That's kind of a big oversight. After all, the film is named after him. While it includes excerpts of some RFK speeches, BOBBY provides no insight into the man and his politics, choosing instead to flit among the insipid soap opera storylines. There's no time to develop any of the characters, and the time spent with them is a waste. Helen Hunt delivers a monologue about the importance of shoes to women. Laurence Fishburne talks about cobbler and America. These are just a couple of the howlers in a movie that intends to be A Serious Film.
Estevez's point may be that these are the people Kennedy would have represented and helped if he had not been killed, but with an overpopulated cast and undercooked characterization, BOBBY struggles to attach greater meaning to the insignificant stories he tells.