Thursday, May 15, 2008
Rants on Bobby
I'm probably the most horrible person you'll ever meet in your life. I don't believe in charity or helping people. I'm a total bitch to my friends and once told one of them to "shoot herself in the brain" after she criticized Hairspray (she then gave me a signed picture of Blake Lewis and I, begrudgingly, apologized). I've laughed at retards (Leonardo DiCaprio in What's Eating Gilbert Grape? and Juliette Lewis in The Other Sister, specifically), Helen Keller, the Holocaust and have called someone "a cunt in a wheelchair."
Given this little backstory, riddle me this: Why am I feeling so charitable towards writer/director/star Emilio Estevez's pet project Bobby? Technically, it's pretty awful; the script doesn't work 75% of the time, the cast is so C-List that you can hardly call it "all-star" and Estevez's direction is merely competent, nothing quite as special as other actors turned directors Barbra Streisand, George Clooney and Robert Redford.
Watching Bobby, you can really feel Estevez's passion for Bobby Kennedy and his intentions. He really felt that Kennedy was going to change the world with his new ideas and that's probably why those sections of Bobby seem the most honest and real. If only Estevez's passion had extended to the dramatic scenes at the hotel, because they're definitely lacking that extra oomph needed to make them really shine.
Like most multi-character dramas, the stories range from the downright awful (Helen Hunt and Martin Sheen buying shoes, playing tennis and talking about nothing in particular; Demi Moore as the most uninteresting drunken diva ever) to the average (Lindsay Lohan saving Elijah Wood from Vietnam; Shia LaBeouf taking acid for the first time) to the superb (Freddy Rodriguez as the Latino- not Mexican- waiter; Sharon Stone doing hair and nails and then discovering her husband's affair). One problem is that Estevez doesn't really develop any one story in the script or with his direction. The reason that some work is because of the actors. Freddy Rodriguez is easily best in show as the slightly disgruntled Latino waiter who is forced to miss an important baseball game to work a double shift. I've loved Rodriguez ever since Six Feet Under and I love it that he finally got a role to show off his talents. Laurence Fishburne has a tiny, two-scene role, but his first scene, putting Jacob Vargas's Miguel in his place over a plate of berry cobbler, is the finest scene that doesn't take place in the final 20 minutes. It's nicely written, without going overboard on the sentiment and preachiness and Fishburne sells it like the pro he is. Sharon Stone also surprised me with her low-key performance. I've only seen Stone in Basic Instinct, but this seems like a lovely change of pace for her. She doesn't have much to say, but you can see the hurt and bitterness in her eyes in every scene.
The first 100 minutes of Bobby are pure soap opera with a couple of political thoughts thrown in, but the last 20 minutes are completely riveting. The way the characters rally around Bobby and his ideals is inspiring. When he eventually get shot, it's almost like a balloon being stabbed by a needle the way all the characters fall apart so suddenly. If Estevez has any talent as a director, it's in these last scenes that he shows us what he is made of.
So, all things considered, why do I feel so kind toward Emilio Estevez's Bobby? Maybe it's because I remember Estevez's looks of gratitude when he was being recognized, and finally considered equal to dad and brother, for Bobby's improbable Golden Globe and SAG nominations. You can see his blood, sweat and tears all over this project and I'm glad he got some sort of recognition; I just wish it was executed better. C+