Bobby, a schoolboy-earnest exercise in nostalgia and tragedy (nostalgedy?), unfolds entirely at the Ambassador Hotel on June 4, 1968, just prior to the night that Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated. Written and directed by Emilio Estevez, it’s a period piece in which the ”authentic” details are mostly a matter of makeup and wardrobe and heavily signposted topical allusions. Look, there’s Lindsay Lohan in raccoon-eyed ’60s mascara! There’s Ashton Kutcher, as a drug dealer who drops acid with two campaign workers, in a hippie wig, and here are references to Don Drysdale, the Communist menace, and The Graduate — though I seriously doubt that anyone discussing Anne Bancroft’s possible nudity in that movie would have been familiar with the term ”body double” in 1968.
The true skin-deepness of Bobby, however, is its rhythm. The conversation is crisp and fast and almost technologically aware, a mode that plays all too anachronistically contemporary. Estevez stages a kind of TV-movie Grand Hotel, with snippets of adultery and other dirty laundry (a fading cabaret singer, nicely played by Demi Moore (pictured, with Estevez), is a lush). In the hotel kitchen, there’s some colorful verbal jousting between the black and Latino workers, but Estevez, trying to create a mood of cross-wired national anxiety, never really makes the personal political. He just piggybacks soap opera banality onto our awareness of what RFK’s murder meant for this country — a death rattle of our hope, our optimism. Bobby coasts along on a dread, and sorrow, it doesn’t earn.