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Directed by Emilio Estevez.
Written by Emilio Estevez.
Starring Anthony Hopkins, Freddy Rodriguez, William H. Macy and Lindsay Lohan.
Release Year:  2006
Review Date:  11/28/06


I was pretty pumped to see the new movie "Bobby", for many reasons--the tales of the difficult production process for the movie are now legend; I thought writer/director Emilio Estevez was dead; the cast is huge, including people that I honestly thought were dead, like Harry Belafonte, Heather Graham and Joshua Jackson; I don't know much about the influence of Robert Kennedy from the past, so I was excited to have the movies teach me another lesson.

The result is a very mixed bag made more confusing by the fact that somewhere between 70-80% of the characters/plotlines are so mundane, uninteresting and not well-performed.  But, that remaining ~25%, mixed with real footage of Kennedy at work in the days leading up to his assassination at the Ambassador Hotel, is strong and warrants you waiting around through some of the lesser events of the film.  On the fateful day in June 1968 when Kennedy was killed, we get to meet 22 people who are hangin' out in and around the hotel the day and night of the California primary that year.  Included in this group are hotel staffers, switchboard operators, guests of the hotel, a lounge singer working the primary that night, and Kennedy campaign staffers.  The assassination is handled as archive footage shown from newscasts that night and the following day, so no one is actually playing Bobby in the film.

Again, the characters are mainly playing out scenarios that are of no interest to anyone, but because they are being played by Actors You Have Heard Of, you make due--a rich married couple (Martin Sheen and Helen Hunt) in town for something; a hotel manager and his second-in-command (William H. Macy and Christian Slater) who are feuding over giving the hotel kitchen staff time off to go vote; a hotel phone operator (Graham) who's sleeping with the hotel manager; the hotel stylist (Sharon Stone) who is married to the hotel manager; the former hotel manager (Anthony Hopkins) and another older gent (Belafonte) chill in the hotel lobby, reminiscing about the past; the lounge singer (Demi Moore) is a drunk and her husband (Estevez) is a patsy; a Czech reporter (Svetlana Metkina, who I think is the wife of one of the film's producers and one of the many production point issues) who is trying to score an interview with Bobby.  I was bored with most of these players, and they don't really have much to do, so they got in the way of the points that were more interesting.

That really boils down to just a few plots: the kitchen staff, including a number of illegal aliens, was probably the most interesting storyline to me.  That included Laurence Fishburne as a lead chef in the kitchen, a kitchen worker named Jose (Freddy Rodriguez) whose double shift will lead him to miss a Dodgers game that night, and Jose's buddy Miguel (Jose Vargas), who has all kinds of racist issues with The Man.  The other line that I enjoyed was, surprisingly, the bit with Lindsay Lohan and Elijah Wood.  As a woman who is marrying a man purely to spare him the atrocities of Vietnam to make sure he gets sent to a base in Germany, I thought a lot about how many women might have done such a thing to spare the lives of those being sent to Vietnam that were certainly NOT the tough, trained killer type.  Having Wood play the man is perfect--does anyone look less likely to be a soldier than Frodo?--and Lohan gives you the slight impression that she might have a future as an actress.  I'll admit that the bits with Kennedy staffers trying out LSD for the first time was funny, mostly due to a wacky performance by Ashton Kutcher as a hotel guest/drug dealer.

But, the role of Kennedy in almost every film character's life seems to be present throughout, and that was what I took from the film the most--just what Bobby meant to people in America in '68.  It was good perspective and handled very well by Estevez.  I don't know if this will lead to many more gigs for Estevez, but I give the man credit for fighting to put this puppy up on screen...and, it really is incredible how many bright-light stars he got to be in the film.  Check it out while you can; it's worth seeing even if it isn't great.

Rating:  Matinee


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09