Obvious Oscar BAit is Obvious
Ohhhhh Oscar season. Every year there's always that one film that exists solely for Oscar consideration. This year, it's Trumbo. Trumbo is simply just a standard film. It features a solid story that Hollywood loves telling about itself, an a-list cast led by a favorite of the business Bryan Cranston, and has a very "moving" theme that it feels the need to remind you of over. And over. And over. And over. All this combined makes Trumbo merely an average film. An average film that now has a very undeserving Oscar to its name.
So, let's talk about the things Trumbo does right. Even though we've seen this story a lot, (the story of the Hollywood Ten has been told a lot over the years) it's still a great story. The film features good performances from its entire cast, including a particularly great performance from Louis C.K. That dude can act. There's also a great performance from Diane Lane, even though her role as "the wife" is a fairly standard Hollywood role for a woman, and Elle Fanning (of Super 8 fame) also does great in the limited role she has. Bryan Cranston is fine but he's essentially playing a not-as-crazy Walter White. Which is fine, but definitely not Oscar-worthy. Finally, the set design was easily the best part of the film. The crew did a great job making the film look and feel like the 1950s. If only this film got a nomination for set design instead of acting....
Then there's the bad. This film is sooooooooo freaking heavy handed. Jay Roach felt the need to be inspired by new trilogy George Lucas dialogue and spoon feed every bit of information to us, which made the 124 minute film feel so freaking long. It's as if this film is appealing to 14 year-olds who just discovered that film is a thing but aren't smart enough to actually think for themselves. It led to some incredibly yawn-worthy moments, and even a few points where I really wanted to yell "Oh my God stop talking and move on to the next scene already!" The pacing of the film was all over the freaking place because of this. This continued all the way to the end of the movie, when director Jay Roach felt the incredible need to flash forward 10 years just so Cranston could deliver a speech and tell us what the film was all about. The film could've easily shaved off 30 minutes of its run time and it still would've been too long. All this combines for a mess of a film. Trumbo really had potential, but because of its heavy-handed and overall Oscar bait-like feel, it falls flat on its face. Dalton Trumbo is rolling in his grave.
The Critique: While an interesting story, Trumbo wreaks of the dreaded Oscar bait formula and ultimately falls flat on its face for a variety of reasons.
The Recommendation: If you really like stories about the history of Hollywood, then this film is for you. If not? Well....there's not much to see here.
The Verdict: 5/10 Average