Bobby (DVD)


“Bobby” is both a crowning achievement for Estevez and the years must see movie. Here’s hoping Robert Altman got to see it.

William H. Macy, Freddy Rodriguez, Shia LaBeouf, Anthony Hopkins, Martin Sheen, Helen Hunt, Sharon Stone, Emilio Estevez, Demi Moore, Lindsay Lohan, Elijah Wood, Heather Graham, Christian Slater, Laurence Fishburne, Nick Cannon, Joshua Jackson, Ashton Kutcher, William H.Macy

He was talented. He was diverse. He was a family man. He was ambitious, without being ruthless. He was immensely likable. And despite sometimes being overshadowed by his more famous brother, he still managed to win enough popularity contests to populate a small village. Unlike the late Robert F.Kennedy, Emilio Estevez now has a chance to show us what he can do.

For the past decade or so, Estevez – brother of Charlie Sheen, son of Martin – has been holed up in an office, nutting away at a screenplay on the late Bobby Kennedy. With acting offers diminishing by the year, it was the former Brat Packer’s plan to transform himself into a filmmaker…. Finally able to leave Kirby back at the wood cabin with Andie MacDowell. After years of talking up his campaign, Estevez now puts his [literally] money on the line.

Not so much a biopic on Senator Kennedy, as it is a tale of the people whose lives he touched, Estevez’s poignant film fixes on the people and patrons of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, on the weekend that Kennedy would’ve been handed the keys to the White House.

Interweaving footage from Kennedy’s campaign during the spring primary elections and excerpts from his speeches, with an entwining collection of recreated moments of the people in the hotel, “Bobby” looks at a group of people, all in rather sorry states, who are all anticipating the arrival of the senator.

There’s the Ambassador’s retired doorman (Anthony Hopkins) who can’t seem to leave his old haunt behind, the hotel’s current manager, Paul Ebbers (William H.Macy), a kind-hearted but flawed businessman whose wife Miriam (Sharon Stone) is the hotel’s hairdresser; the prejudiced boss Timmons (Christian Slater), sous chef Edward Robinson (Laurence Fishburne); Latino workers Jose (Freddy Rodriguez), who would rather be watching the night’s pivotal Dodgers baseball game, and alcoholic singer Virginia Fallon (Demi Moore), who is scheduled to introduce the Senator at his California Primary party, and her frustrated husband Tim (Emilio Estevez).

Lindsay Lohan snags one of her best parts in a young bride-to-be who is about to marry a young man (Elijah Wood) to save him from going to Vietnam; whilst Helen Hunt makes a glowing return to the silver screen as the wife of a depressed East Coast Socialite, played by Martin Sheen.

Some of the younger characters in the film include Kennedy campaign aides Wade and Dwayne (Joshua Jackson and Nick Cannon), as well as novice volunteers Jimmy and Cooper (Brian Geraghty and Shia LaBeouf) whose day of campaigning is radically changed when they run into a drug dealer (Ashton Kutcher) who initiates them into the infamous acid trip experience.

Like a 1981 mini, “Bobby” takes a while to kick in, but once it does, it smoothly gets us to our destination. Scratch that – it rocks along to its destination… in a good way. The slow-build was intentional it seems, with Estevez letting you get to know each and all of the characters in his film – completely – before ripping their hearts out in the film’s heartbreaking final few minutes.

The performances are A-grade. Though it’s difficult to single out any one performer in the film, not only because there’s so many of them but also because they’re all remarkable, there’s a couple that will stay with you a little longer than the others. Demi Moore – yep, the one time future Mrs Estevez – gives what could be the best performance since, well, the 80s, in a role that seems tailor-made for her (chances are, it was); Freddy Rodriguez will win you over with his kindly kitchen hand; and surprise, surprise, Christian Slater excels in a multi-faceted role that’s inarguably the best part he’s been offered since his heyday.

To be fair, all the turns are terrific – it’s the best work you’ll see from Joshua Jackson, Sharon Stone, William H.Macy, Lindsay Lohan, Elijah Wood, Anthony Hopkins, Harry Belafonte, and Laurence Fishburne, in a long time – but a lot of the praise should go to the man behind their words, Estevez.

Estevez has penned a script that’s consequential without being overtly preachy, compelling without having to exaggerate the proceedings, and real, because of the vast array of credible characters. Kennedy touched a lot of lives, and Estevez shows you just how wide his appreciation spanned with characters of all race, religion and predicament.

“Bobby” is both a crowning achievement for Estevez and the years must see movie. Here’s hoping Robert Altman got to see it.

There’s a couple of extras on the DVD – just featurettes – but the much-desired commentary from writer/director Estevez is nowhere to be found.

Rating :
Reviewer : Clint Morris