The story of the assassination of U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy who was shot in the early morning hours of June 5, 1968 in the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, and 22 people in the hotel whose lives were never the same.
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Helena Bonham Carter
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Tuesday, June 4, 1968: the California presidential primary. As day breaks Robert F. Kennedy arrives at the Ambassador Hotel; he'll campaign, then speak to supporters at midnight. To capture the texture of the late 1960s, we see vignettes at the hotel: a couple marries so he can avoid Vietnam, kitchen staff discuss race and baseball, a man cheats on his wife, another is fired for racism, a retired hotel doorman plays chess in the lobby with an old friend, a campaign strategist's wife needs a pair of black shoes, two campaign staff trip on LSD, a lounge singer is on the downhill slide. Through it all, we see and hear RFK calling for a better society and a better nation. Written by
The scene of Sharon Stone's character cutting her husband's hair (played by William H. Macy) was not in the script. Stone was to pantomime cutting the hair, but she actually snipped his hair. Macy's visibly tense reaction to the haircut was real. See more »
While John Casey is seated and talking, his wrist watch says the time is 10 minutes to the hour. A few moments later, the watch has skipped back in time to quarter to the hour. See more »
Who am I more? Jackie or Ethel, and you have to pick one. Who Am I more?
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If Bobby Kennedy was the reincarnation of Nostradamus instead of the reincarnation of Jesus that this movie makes him out to be and knew this movie was going to be made one day, he would have done a Matrix move that night and dodged those bullets. Headlines around the country would have read "BOBBY DODGES ASSASSIN'S BULLETS; BECOMES AWESOMEST PERSON TO EVER LIVE;CHUCK NORRIS ROUNDHOUSE KICKS SELF IN DEFEAT".
Emilio Estevez, attempting to make a Robert Altman movie about that tragic night when Kennedy did not dodge those bullets while forgetting that Altman makes (well, made, rest his soul) movies about real people as opposed to symbolic mouthpieces for misguided speechifying and transparent, heavy-handed period-evocation, has made what some might call this year's Crash: a big ensemble drama that is About Things with all the subtlety of one of Charlton Heston's climactic outbursts at the end of almost every movie he was ever in. But Crash was competently written, acted, and directed, and is a fairly interesting and lucid piece of thought-provocation, regardless of its contrived, sledgehammer tactics. I'm not sure what Bobby wants to be about. It would appear to be an attempt to explore via cross-section what was probably the most turbulent passage of 1960's American history, but the writing is so awkward and the interconnected stories so hamfisted that the final product seems to suggest that the second Kennedy assassination of the decade was simply the only thing that wasn't boring and ridiculous about the day on which it occurred.
The final passage, in which the characters shut up and the event the whole mess has been building up to finally occurs, has an undeniable power, but all that's left after the smoke has cleared is inept pseudo-liberal pornography, saying nothing in particular with anything approaching actual eloquence. The most laughable passages involve two campaign workers doing acid with possibly the most glaring and unintentionally hilarious hippie stereotype seen on film since the anti-drug propaganda of the day, played perhaps fittingly by master thespian Ashton Kutcher. His performance suggests a degree of self-awareness that the more respectable actors in the cast (let's see...that's all of them, barring perhaps Christian Slater, fresh off his performances in Uwe Boll's apocalyptic semi-masterpiece Alone in the Dark and the direct-to-video Hollow Man 2) miss entirely in their desperate, flailing grabs for emotional resonance in Estevez's graceless prose. While Kutcher's (possibly unintentional) aura of self-awareness is perhaps the only thing that sustains his career, here he seems to be the only one who realizes that he's being Punk'd by this well-meaning garbage.
It also has been made with a disrespect for non-Kennedy-related history and plain old facts. A large part of it tells the stories of the other people who were shot that night, but their stories here are entirely fictional. The subplot involving Elijah Wood marrying Lindsay Lohan to get out of the draft is completely worthless, not just because Lohan is a bad actress and every subplot in this mess is worthless, but because even the users of the IMDb apparently knew more about this than the filmmakers did and have, God bless them, pointed out the fact that the marriage loophole was closed several years before the events in the film. The film traffics in faux-liberal "truthiness" like Stephen Colbert's faux-conservatism does. While I can get behind artistic license being taken when it makes a true story more cinematic, here it just allows the creatively bankrupt but morally righteous Estevez to drag the proceedings into a mire of clichés that might not have been there in the first place.
The whole cast, even the talented portion, (William H. Macy, Anthony Hopkins, Morpheus) does work ranging from mediocre to outright embarrassing. It's hard to tell whether Demi Moore's horrible performance as an alcoholic singer was just because of Estevez's script or the fact that she should be kept as far away as possible from a camera at all times. There's also some inexplicable rambling from the inexplicable Helen Hunt, whom within her first minute of screen time I wanted to reach through the screen and sucker punch in the ovaries. It gets so bad that her husband, Martin Sheen, grabs her and says "YOU ARE NOT YOUR SHOES!" This isn't what I would have done, but it makes about as much sense as the rest of the script.
Bobby is the worst film I've sat through in a theater all year. This might say something about how choosy I am with which films I see, but here the writing is so bad and the storytelling so misguided that I was squirming in my seat for long stretches of the film, and I never do that. That it's been nominated for Best Drama at the Golden Globes says more about the relevance of the Globes than it does about the quality of this abortion.
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