Saturday, April 14, 2007

Bobby: Grade D


Bobby (2006)

Anthony Hopkins, Laurence Fishburne, Sharon Stone, Demi Moore, William Macy, many others. Written and Directed by Emilio Estevez.

This is not a movie about Bobby Kennedy. It is about two dozen ordinary people who were in the hotel where he was shot in 1968. Some short archival clips show him making speeches, adding authenticity to the setting, but there is no exploration of the man, his policies or achievements. It is not a political movie. The two dozen "little people" are played by a huge cast of stars, which implies the Estevez-Sheen family is very well connected in Hollywood, because the roles are all light throwaways and what acting is present is suffocated by the clunky dialog and stereotyped characters. Even Hopkins gasps for air. There is no dramatic tension. We know Kennedy gets shot, and that is dramatized in the last moments, but the preceding hour and a half is an exercise in banality, people worrying about their shoes or the Dodgers. The Vietnam war is vaguely in the background. I give credit for meticulous period sets and costumes, although everything is so new and shiny they are not entirely convincing. Period music burbling in the background is a fine tease (I don’t think I have heard Donovan since 1968). But the script is appallingly mundane and full of anachronisms (Operators did not say “How may I direct your call?” in 1968, and nobody said “Have a nice day.”) If the nostalgia is not even right, what is left? If you did not live through that period, I cannot imagine what possible interest this movie would offer.

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