Bobby is an ambitious attempt to reenact the day Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles on June 5, 1968. Director Emilio Estevez has assembled a extensive ensemble cast, featuring vets like William H. Macy, Harry Belefonte and Anthony Hopkins to Brat Packers like Christian Slater and Demi Moore to hot young stars such as Lindsay Lohan and Elijah Wood to up and comers like Shia LaBeouf and Joshua Jackson who play people who were in the hotel the night Kennedy was killed.
Estevez, who wrote and directed Bobby, was only six years old when Kennedy was assassinated so it might be his lack of personal experience with the era that gives Bobby it almost hopelessly earnest tone. The late 60s were a politically charged time, fuelled by protests, assassinations and civil unrest, but Estevez’s account of the time is simplistic, with stock characters—the racist kitchen manager, the wise old doorman—spouting dialogue that sounds as though it was written for a history textbook and not a feature film.
When Lohan’s character says, “If marrying you tonight keeps you from going to Vietnam, then it’s worth it,” before she walks down the aisle with a recently drafted Elijah Wood, it’s difficult not to imagine even a Harlequin romance writer cringing at the clichéd line.
With 22 characters Bobby is too populated by half. Many of the stories are superfluous and don’t add anything to the film except star power and running time. It’s a snapshot of the time that needs some serious cropping.
Despite the needlessly sprawling story, it’s hard to really dislike a movie this earnest, a film that wears its heart on its sleeve. While cinematic greatness might not be evident, Bobby’s message of peace and justice shines through.