“They call me Jabba the Hut.” -Roger Ailes

How does one review Bombshell?

It’s not a bad movie, per se. It’s not edited as badly as THE BIG SHORT, but unfortunately, it has the same writer. Jay Roach directed it with a touch of humor, but it’s far from farcical. Tonally, it was respectful of the women. In the Q&A, Jay Roach said he thought needed woman producers since the writer and director were male. They ended up getting plenty of women producers, however, perhaps the viewpoint needed to come from a woman instead of just a sympathetic male. That is not the only problem.

It’s about the predatory executive, Roger Ailes (John Lithgow), who helped to create Fox News. Just like the films THE FRONT RUNNER (2018) and CHAPPAQUIDICK (2017) not much is shown to back up the story. Unlike THE FRONT RUNNER (2018) and CHAPPAQUIDICK (2017), this film is not about supposed “affairs”, but actual quid pro quo cases where women were asked by Roger for sexual favors to get ahead. One woman denies Roger did anything for most of the movie, while another woman was asked to hike her skirt up. While there are some details that are revealed later in the film, there was never much of a sense that Roger Ailes was dangerous for most of the movie. I attribute that problem to the script and not John Lithgow’s excellent performance. There was nothing more he could have done to elevate the material.

Margot Robbie and Kate McKinnon also delivered great performances. We got to see tears from Margot Robbie’s Kayla Pospisil. Kate McKinnon also plays a closeted Democrat working in a "toxic" environment at Fox; she's deadpan but the wry humor bubbles up. The makeup artists deserve awards for their work on transforming Charlize Theron into Megyn Kelly. However, nothing is done to age or de-age Roger Ailes and Lachlan Murdoch's characters when they flip back and forth from 2001 to 2016 toward the end. Allison Janney plays lawyer Susan Estrich really well. The hair, the voice, the accent: people should be talking more about her than they actually are.

All in all, this movie somehow failed. It is sympathetic to some conservatives/Republicans which might anger liberals/Democrats. Because the Fox women were harassed and the filmmakers were trying to handle the matter delicately, they completely overlooked their racism, except for one scene where they talk about a "white Jesus" and a "white Santa". It's hard to feel sorry for a racist, but it's also hard to praise a movie by filmmakers who practically gloss over the women's racism just to make a stronger case that they were victims of sexual assault. I could go further than that, but I am simply not here to victim blame. Roger Ailes is a scumbag. This is the story of his downfall. The right way to tell the story simply wasn't found. However, the right actors, costumes, and makeup artists were. Usually, assigning numbers to a film is easy to me. However, I am choosing not to rate this film, because any number I could possibly tag onto this would be definitely wrong.

Q&A with Jay Roach

Random credit:
Video Assist Utility - Anthony Perkins

Allison M. liked these reviews