Bobby premiered at the Venice Film Festival, where it received a seven-minute-long standing ovation. The film was released in New York and Los Angeles on November 17, 2006; wide release followed on Thanksgiving, November 23, 43 years and a day after the John F. Kennedy assassination. Reviews from critics were mixed, but Bobby was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Picture.
Bobby is a fictional account of events at the Ambassador Hotel on the day Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated. The film recreates the ambience and themes of 1968 and invokes the hopes killed with Kennedy, by portraying this day-in-the-life of 24 fictional characters. It uses the ensemble plot device of the 1932 film Grand Hotel to tell the story (a film that is referenced in dialogue).
Lindsay Lohan and Elijah Wood appear as a couple opposed to the Vietnam War who get married so Wood's character can avoid being sent to Vietnam and possible combat duty, starting out just getting married, and ending in love.
Sharon Stone plays a beautician married to the hotel's manager (William H. Macy), who clashes with his racist food and beverage manager (Christian Slater), who oversees an African American chef (Laurence Fishburne) and two Hispanic busboys (Freddy Rodriguez and Jacob Vargas). Other hotel staff portrayed are two phone switchboard operators, Heather Graham, (who is having an affair with Macy's character), and Joy Bryant.
Joshua Jackson (Emilio Estevez's co-star in the The Mighty Ducks trilogy), Nick Cannon, Brian Geraghty, and Shia LaBeouf play Kennedy staffers and volunteers; the latter two vie for the affection of a waitress played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead and are willingly distracted by a drug dealer (Ashton Kutcher). A Czechoslovakian reporter (Svetlana Metkina) finally gets the campaign staff to grant her an interview with Kennedy, but he dies before she can interview him.
In the end a small number of these characters, (Christian Slater, Helen Hunt, Elijah Wood, Brian Geraghty and Shia LaBeouf) are wounded in the shooting of RFK.
The film's score is composed by Mark Isham.
Michael Medved gave the film three stars (out of four), calling the film "intriguing but imperfect." Medved added that he "can confirm that director/writer Emilio Estevez gets most of the feelings of the occasion right. But, the melodramatic, multi-character format proves somewhat uneven and distracting." Medved is unique amongst film critics in that he (at the time, a young Kennedy campaign volunteer) was present in the ballroom of the Ambassador Hotel when Senator Kennedy was assassinated.
Richard Roeper of "Ebert & Roeper" said of Bobby that it featured "the most eclectic cast of the year. Estevez writes and directs with lots of passion, not so much subtlety." Roeper closes by saying, "Estevez wants the movie to be on the level of a Robert Altman film like Nashville, but falls short.
This movie got a seven-minute standing ovation at the 2006 Venice Film Festival. Writer/director Emilio Estevez was nominated for the Golden Lion and won the Biografilm Award for Bobby.
Hollywood Film Festival
Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards
The title role is almost entirely played by RFK himself. Spliced between, throughout, and within many scenes, is a patchwork of archival footage, radio broadcasts and photos of his presidential campaign along with other images and sounds of the Kennedy family, news broadcasts, and other media clips from the 1960s.
A few characters draw on the stories of real people. Tim Fallon (Emilio Estevez) and Virginia Fallon (Demi Moore) may be based on José Ferrer and Rosemary Clooney respectively. Both of them were present at RFK's assassination. However, most characters and their entwining plots are fictitious, representing late 60s archetypes. The five bystanders shot are all fictional.
At the actual Kennedy assassination a bus boy, Juan Romero, cradled Bobby in his arms and placed a rosary in his hands. In the film adaptation the bus boy's name is changed to José Rojas (Freddy Rodríguez), but his role is still the same. José has tickets to the Los Angeles Dodgers game, where Don Drysdale is expected to set the record of six consecutive shutouts, but is obliged to work a double shift. Drysdale did in fact achieve his sixth shutout on June 4, 1968, and was congratulated by Kennedy in his speech just before Kennedy was shot.
Anthony Hopkins' character of retired doorman, John Casey, in the movie is the name of an actual doorman at the Ambassador Hotel. Casey was no longer doorman after 1965, while Bobby's assassination takes place in 1968. At the end of the credits, it states, "'John Casey' is the name of an actual doorman at the Ambassador Hotel from 1928-1965. His portrayal in this film is not intended to reflect the actual facts of his life or legacy."
Bobby does not attempt to present the RFK assassination exactly as it occurred, nor does it attempt to explain the assasination. The five real wounded bystanders are not portrayed, nor are most key people who were present (George Plimpton, Rafer Johnson, Andrew West, James Scott Enyart, Thane Eugene Cesar, David Sanchez Morales, Paul Sharaga, Sandy Serrano, etc.) Rosey Grier may have been the person shown escorting Kennedy to the stage and wrestling with Sirhan for the gun. There is no treatment of Sirhan Sirhan's background or motives, whether he acted alone, nor anything to support or refute alternate or conspiracy theories to the murder.