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WEINSTEIN COMPANY

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Emilio Estevez
Cast:
Laurence Fishburne, Heather Graham, Anthony Hopkins, Helen Hunt, Lindsay Lohan, William H. Macy, Sharon Stone, Elijah Wood, Demi Moore, Freddy Rodríguez, Martin Sheen, Christian Slater, Ashton Kutcher, Shia LaBeouf, Nick Cannon, Harry Belafonte
Writing Credits:
Emilio Estevez

Tagline:
He saw wrong and tried to right it. He saw suffering and tried to heal it. He saw war and tried to stop it.

Synopsis:
Featuring one of the most remarkable casts ever assembled, Bobby is "an unforgettable movie experience ... a powerful reminder of what America could be" (Pete Hammond, Maxim). The all-star ensemble includes Oscar winners Laurence Fishburn, William H. Macy and Sharon Stone, along with Heather Graham, Lindsay Lohan, Demi Moore, Christian Slater and Elijah Wood. Written and directed by Emilio Estevez, Bobby revisits the night presidential-hopeful Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated at the Ambassador Hotel in 1968. As the lives of those who were present dramatically intersect, Bobby shows how the gunshots that rang out that night forever changed the course of American history.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$69.039 thousand on 2 screens.
Domestic Gross
$11.204 million.

MPAA:
Rated R

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 116 min.
Price: $28.95
Release Date: 4/10/2007

Bonus:
• “Bobby: The Making of an American Epic” Featurette
• “Eyewitness Accounts from the Ambassador Hotel” Featurette
• Trailer
• Previews


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EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Bobby (2006)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 4, 2007)

Over the years, we’ve seen many efforts connected to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in November 1963. Oliver Stone’s 1991 epic JFK stands as the most famous – or infamous, depending on whom you ask – of these, but it’s certainly not alone.

On the other hand, we’ve not found much that relates to the June 1968 assassination of Kennedy’s younger brother Bobby. Immediately after Bobby Kennedy won the California presidential primary – and set up the likelihood of a very dramatic Democratic convention – Sirhan Sirhan shot and killed him. Bobby looks at that day at the Ambassador Hotel, the location of Kennedy’s campaign headquarters. We meet guests, employees and others who cross paths at the hotel as the day progresses. The flick also follows the aftermath of Kennedy’s shooting and what happens with all the characters.

Director Emilio Estevez must’ve called in a lot of favors to recruit the cast of Bobby. One big name after another trots in front of us as the movie progresses. This actually becomes a distraction, as we pay much more attention to the stars than we do to the story. It becomes a game of “hey, it’s ‘Star A’” instead of an absorbing experience.

I can understand why the actors agreed to be part of Bobby. Since the flick features no lead characters, I’m sure none of them had to spend too many days on the project. Also, actors-turned-directors tend to be very protective and friendly toward other thespians, so that probably enticed many to work with Estevez. In return, he makes sure that all of the actors – even though we find a million of them – get their own moments in the sun, little reveries that allow them to stand out from the crowd.

I can’t understand why anyone thought this misbegotten mess would make for a good film, however. Bobby flaunts its pretensions early when it refers to Grand Hotel. Clearly Estevez aspires to a similar ensemble experience with all its intertwined lives. Hotel made this work fairly well, but Bobby utterly fails. It lacks the narrative spine to interest us, and the characters exist as little more than vague concepts instead of real personalities.

Indeed, Bobby exists more as a conglomerations of characters than it does any kind of story. The California primary and the Kennedy campaign act as the framework, but the movie fails to set up its personalities or threads in even the most remotely involving manner. We see brief slices of these lives as they progress, but we don’t care at all, and they all seem artificial and contrived.

Speaking of which, Estevez goes out of his way to comment on modern times. Early on we find a smirking reference to hanging chads, and we also find reflections on immigration policy and comments about Vietnam that feel more like they’re aimed at Iraq. None of these work. They feel much too heavily oriented toward current situations and don’t match the historical settings. Estevez wants to editorialize in a manner that makes no sense for his film.

By half an hour into Bobby, I was ready for it to end, and the product never improved as it went. The flick never begins to engage the viewer, as it seems overwritten and disjointed. We find far too many little monologues with no logical purpose. A better director might have been able to make such an intricate ensemble piece work, but Estevez leaves us with a slow, muddled mess.

I suspect we could have found a fascinating look at the assassination and its impact, but instead we get a slow, pointless piece of amateurish character moments. Bobby is more of a long, rambling experiment than an actual story. It can offer an embarrassingly reverential view of Kennedy. I don’t question that he was a good man, but the flick makes him look like the only hope for mankind.

With this heavy level of adoration, thinly drawn characters, and no actual point, Bobby ends up as an embarrassing mess. Too much of it feels like an awkward commentary on modern times, the flick tends to be tedious and pointless. More of an indulgent attempt to promote a contemporary political agenda than to make a real movie, this absurdly contrived effort fails in almost every possible way.


The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus C

Bobby appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Across the board, the movie boasted an attractive transfer.

At all times, sharpness looked strong. No problems with softness interfered, as the flick stayed concise and accurate. I noticed no jagged edges or shimmering, but some light edge haloes occasionally appeared. As for source flaws, I noticed a couple of small specks but no other distractions.

Bobby went with a low-key palette. The movie gave us a stylized impression that tended to go with desaturated tones at times, though plenty of natural shots cropped up as well. Within the flick’s visual choices, the colors seemed well rendered. Blacks appeared deep and firm, while low-light sequences portrayed good clarity. I found a lot to like in this solid transfer.

In terms of audio, I didn’t expect fireworks from the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Bobby, and the results remained appropriately low key. The vast majority of the time, the soundfield stayed with general ambience. A few sequences – crowd shots, drug trips – opened up matters a bit wider, but those instances occurred infrequently. The track stayed with environmental basics and that was about it.

Audio quality proved positive. Speech seemed concise and natural, with no edginess or other flaws. Music demonstrated good range and delineation, and effects followed along the same lines. Those elements came across as lively and accurate. Nothing here dazzled, but the soundtrack satisfied.

Two featurettes crop up here. Bobby: The Making of an American Epic runs 28 minutes, 31 seconds as it mixes movie clips, shots from the set, and interviews. We hear from actor/writer/director Emilio Estevez, production designer Patty Podesta, Robert Kennedy: His Life author Evan Thomas, composer Mark Isham, music producers Harvey Masson, Jr. and Damon Thomas, songwriter Bryan Adams, singers Aretha Franklin and Mary J. Blige, and actors Laurence Fishburne, Freddy Rodriguez, Anthony Hopkins, Harry Belafonte, William H. Macy, Nick Cannon, Martin Sheen, Elijah Wood, Lindsay Lohan, Sharon Stone, Demi Moore, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead.

We learn of Estevez’s interest in the story and how he developed it. We get notes about characters and cast, the mix of fact and fiction, info about the crew and their work, period details, Estevez’s style as a director, the hotel location, music. The show also covers facts of Bobby Kennedy’s life and thoughts about his impact.

Though a smattering of useful details emerge here, too much of “Epic” comes across as puffery. We get much adulation of Kennedy’s legacy and even more praise for Estevez’s talents and the movie itself. Useful material takes a backseat to happy talk in this spotty program.

Next comes the 29-minute and 13-second Eyewitness Accounts from the Ambassador Hotel. Shot at a panel discussion, it features remarks from journalist Ruth Ashton-Taylor, union organizer Dolores Huerta, Students for Robert Kennedy head Rick Tuttle and western regional director of the United Auto Workers Paul Schrade, reporter Warren Wilson and the doctor who tended to Schrade; I couldn’t get his name. (All of the job descriptions reflect what the participants did in 1968.)

The various folks discuss their thoughts about Kennedy, interactions with him, and memories from June 4, 1968. Although this creates expectations of an interesting discussion, “Accounts” proves less than stellar. It offers a decent picture of events but not a terribly full or rich one much of the time. Like the movie itself, it comes as something of a disappointment, as it doesn’t provide a consistently involving portrait of events. The remarks from Schrade and the doctor are easily the most compelling, but the rest don’t do much for me.

The DVD opens with a few ads. We get promos for Breaking and Entering, Factory Girl, Miss Potter, and Shut Up and Sing. The disc also presents the trailer for Bobby.

For the definition of the term “missed opportunity”, we can look at Bobby. A rambling, pointless waste of time, it totally discards all its potential to become a disjointed piece of indulgent nonsense. The DVD offers very good picture, solid audio, and a couple of minor extras. While I can’t really complain about this disc, the movie itself doesn’t warrant your attention.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.2 Stars Number of Votes: 10
25:
34:
2 3:
12:
21:
View Averages for all rated titles.

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