Bobby Parent Guide
Parent Movie Review
Movies about historical political figures are often shown in high school classrooms—even when their MPAA rating (like the R assigned to this film) would indicate they are not appropriate for teens. As well as being a candidate for it’s possible educational value, the enthusiasm and ardent left-wing fan base behind Bobby (and right leaning opposition), will likely also have the production being considered for the 2006’s Political Hot Potato Movie Award—an unofficial category to which at least one film subscribes each year.
For adults contemplating sharing this movie with young audiences, it is necessary to look past the rhetoric, be aware of the possible objectionable content and weigh in the artistic merits of this work. But more important than any of these elements is a firm understanding of what is fact, and what is fiction.
Bobby is set at the real and famed Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles (a building with so many stories and legends that it is worthy of its own movie script), where a young Palestinian man shot U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy on the eventful day of June 6, 1968. Everything else is pure Hollywood fantasy.
The film opens early on that summer morning and begins introducing what seems like a cast of thousands (there are at least 24 characters). These include a retired doorman (Anthony Hopkins) who loves the glitz and bustle of the hotel’s constant flow of guests and practically lives in the lobby playing chess with an old friend (Harry Belafonte). The establishment’s manager (William H. Macy) holds liberal views toward the many illegal Mexican immigrants populating the building’s kitchen. Among these hard-working souls is Jose (Freddy Rodriquez), and his wise and thoughtful mentor Edward (Laurence Fishburne)—a chef that represents the progress of African Americans, even though it still means serving his bigoted boss Timmons (Christian Slater) special helpings of his cobbler dessert.
Sharon Stone plays the hotel manager’s wife and Heather Graham is his mistress. Demi Moore takes on the role of an alcoholic lounge singer and Ashton Kutcher is a drug-selling hippie. The characters played by Lindsay Lohan and Elijah Wood get married to keep the young man from going to Vietnam. There are more, but that should be sufficient to represent the scope covered in the movie’s “day in the life of a hotel” premise.
The style of this production shares a close likeness with last year’s (2005) Oscar winning Crash. Writer/director Emilio Estevez (who is also on screen as the alcoholic singer’s husband) truly does marvelous work managing his army of characters, and giving us at least enough time to have a feel for each face. These multiple storylines are brought together with deft editing finesse, which features many minutes of actual footage of Kennedy himself. Yet, unlike Crash, there is no mystery in how this story will end. Instead, there is just the relentless ticking of time as the inevitable and unalterable events of history unfold.
Content issues of concern are substance abuse, language, and violence. Kutcher’s druggie persona extols the virtues of acid, telling two other characters that it’s the only way to be closer to God, and even does a small demonstration showing how to use it. The tripped out boys toss furniture out the hotel window and wander around the room naked (rear male nudity is seen). Profanities are moderately frequent, and the sexual expletive is heard a half-dozen times. Finally, the scene of Kennedy’s assassination shows characters covered in blood.
Yet perhaps the greatest point for viewers to acknowledge is that this movie merely presents icons symbolizing the period in which the story takes place. Estevez offers an inventory of the top issues of the time, like feminism, immigration, prejudice, drugs, and the draft. His admiration for Kennedy is very evident too, and the late senator’s speeches about peace and shunning violence are the most poignant and engaging moments of this film. Certainly, as writer and director, he has brought all these elements together with great skill—but like the Political Hot Potato Movie Award, the bulk of this movie is passionate fiction and not political history.Starring Anthony Hopkins, Laurence Fishburne, Sharon Stone, Demi Moore. Running time: 120 minutes. Theatrical release November 21, 2006. Updated July 17, 2017
Rating & Content Info
Why is Bobby rated R? Bobby is rated R by the MPAA for language, drug content and a scene of violence
This U.S. R-rated movie (ratings will differ in other countries) includes detailed drug use where a man convinces two other younger men that using acid will bring them closer to God. Once “high,” they toss furniture out of the hotel window and one wanders around naked (rear male nudity is seen). Language includes many mild and moderate profanities along with a half dozen sexual expletives. The assassination scene vividly depicts people being shot, and shows suffering victims on the floor and covered in blood. Sexual content includes the aforementioned nudity, a woman seen in her underwear getting dressed after having sexual relations with a married man, and an about to be married couple passionately kiss with later sexual activity implied. Many characters smoke cigarettes (which is an accurate depiction of the period).
Page last updated July 17, 2017
More parents' guide for Bobby after the break...
Bobby Parents' Guide
The creator of this film, Emilio Estevez, has chosen to surround an actual historical figure with an assortment of fictional stories. What artistic liberties does this approach provide as compared to doing a biographical movie on the life of Robert F. Kennedy? How may it allow a writer to change the perspective—either positively or negatively—in which the real-life character is presented?
How might the use of actual footage of Senator Kennedy affect our impressions about the reality of the other characters presented in this film?
The most recent home video release of Bobby movie is April 9, 2007. Here are some details…
DVD Release Date: 10 April 2007
The potential educational value of this film is enhanced with a handful of extra features. Beginning with Bobby: The Making of An American Epic, this “making of” documentary fills in the details of how writer/director Emilio Estevez was inspired to create the huge cast of fictional characters based on real life events and situations. History teachers will find value in the section of this segment that details the life of Bobby Kennedy, and music teachers will appreciate the information and visuals detailing the creation of the film’s score.
A round-table discussion with eyewitnesses who were present on that fateful day at the Ambassador Hotel reveals more information about what people were doing leading up to the assassination. Other members recall various aspects of the civil rights movement during the 1960s.
The movie’s trailer is also included. The feature is sold in wide or full screen presentations with Dolby 5.1 English audio and Spanish and English subtitles.
Related home video titles:
Other movies based around historical figures or events are Thirteen Days (about the Cuban Missile Crisis), Malcolm X (depicting the assassination of an African-American religious figure and activist) and Gandhi (the man whose non-violent protest policies eventually liberated India from the British Empire).