Director: This was directed? (Jay Roach)
Release Year: 2015
Rating: 2 out of 10
I can’t even really vouch for seeing a movie this time. Trumbo, has the appearance of a motion picture, and has actors performing in it. But nothing even remotely cinematic takes place in the two hours I gave towards this mediocre HBO wannabe. I was surprised to see the director, Jay Roach, had even directed another film before. Unsurprisingly, his other credits include Game Change, an HBO film than reeked of incompetence at every turn. Roach hasn’t learned from his mistakes it seems, for Trumbo offers no artistic flare, no passion, and no real reason to exists beyond winning Academy Awards.
We follow the trials and tribulations of esteemed writer Dalton Trumbo, who’s blacklisted from Hollywood, but continues to find ways to write screenplays and eventually becomes credited for his own work. Trumbo (Brian Cranston) has an absolutely compelling story, unfortunately John McNamara takes this and wrings out a shapeless family drama with a completely overcooked narrative on “fighting for what’s right!” Overcooked seems to be the word here, because nothing can just be what it is. Instead we’re given performances from great actors that borderline on that of community theater. Cranston chews the scenery every change he’s given, taking little mannerisms past their breaking point to try and add some life into the dull screenplay. Helen Mirren, who plays Hedda Hopper, seems lost in a sea of random appearances that serve to try and add drama. Everyone else seems to try with what little material they’re given, but it’s all for naught.
Roach’s approach to directing largely consists of: 1. Shooting every scene straight on and 2. Have actors act and give them nothing to stand on. No directorial flare even begins to emerge here. This all seems to be an elaborate joke if anything. You know how in films they’ll sometimes show the characters watching a movie and it’ll look purposely terrible for a quick laugh? Trumbo is a feature length version of those mini-films, with all of the humor sucked out. The only thing that’s stopping me from giving this a dreaded one out of ten comes from its inoffensiveness. Nothing that happened here was particularly evil or made me feel sickened in any negative way. I walked out knowing I’d forget about everything that took place. Writing about it for such a short length even feels like giving this too much credit.
The only reason I even saw this mess was because for some reason this has been picking up nominations from the Screen Actors Guild, the Golden Globes, and probably from the Oscars come January. To be fair, a nomination from any of these organizations does not suggest a film has the highest of quality, but they normally don’t go for stuff this horribly bland and inexperienced. I can only hope this scores no nominations and everything up till now has been luck. I say that for the Oscar completests out there (including myself). No one should have to endure this mess.