Bombshell (2019)

bombshell poster 2019 movie
7.0 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 9/10

Great looking cast with amazing resemblance to the real players

Doesn't dive deep enough

Movie Info

Movie Name: Bombshell

Studio:  Creative Wealth Media Finance

Genre(s): Drama

Release Date(s): December 13, 2019 (US)

MPAA Rating: R

bombshell megyn kelly gretchen carlson nicole kidman charlize theron margot robbie elevator

One of us is about to become a pariah

Fox News created an empire, and one of the men who built that empire was Roger Ailes (John Lithgow).  When Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman) finds herself sidelined by Ailes and eventually fired, she decides it is time to expose what is happening behind closed doors at Fox.  With multiple accusations of harassment coming against Ailes and a toxic culture, the employees of the station are forced to pick sides.  Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron) is in a trap as her name soars in the public due to a confrontation with Trump while new employee Kayla Pospisil (Margot Robbie) learns becoming a big name at Fox could be a price she isn’t willing to pay.

Megyn Kelly? Charlize Theron? Megyn Kelly? Charlize Theron? You decide…

Directed by Jay Roach, Bombshell is a telling of the events at Fox News which resulted in the firing of Roger Ailes during the 2016 Presidential Election campaign.  The film was met with mixed reviews but received an Academy Award for Best Makeup and Hairstyling with nominations for Best Actress (Theron) and Best Supporting Actress (Robbie).

My primary interest in Bombshell wasn’t getting the “truth”…it is always pretty subjective how these stories are told and what is chosen to be portrayed while what is left out.  I wanted to see how Fox was portrayed and if it felt real.  Working in news (on a smaller scale), I did see a lot of accuracy in some of the workings of the movie, but the movie itself was not the level it needed to be.

bombshell kate mckinnon margot robbie lesbian

Is it harder to be a lesbian at Fox or a democrat?

When considering a movie that is “ripped from the headlines” (to borrow from Law and Order), you need to do more than just present aspects of the story.  It needs to have a heart and it doesn’t feel like Bombshell ever finds its heart.  A good contrast is The Social Network which does feel like it digs in and explores.  Here, it feels like the issues raised in the film scratch the surface of the bigger problems and goes for salacious stuff instead of the causes (and the salacious stuff was criticized for being toned down and “kind” to Ailes).  I wanted more introspection on how this could develop and happen while managing to turn people who should be allies against each other.

The casting however is phenomenal.  In particular, Charlize Theron not only does a good “imitation” of Megyn Kelly, but it feels like she starts to develop a character (the script hinders her in this aspect).  I felt Kidman’s Gretchen Carlson needed more balancing within the movie and the composite Margot Robbie character has the benefit of not being anyone “real” so she can make it her own.  Lithgow is a good Ailes and the film also features Connie Britton, Allison Janney, Kate McKinnon, Mark Duplass, Malcolm McDowell, D’Arcy Carden, Holland Taylor, Alice Eve, Tricia Helfer, Brian d’Arcy, Richard Kind, Brooke Smith, and Stephen Root among others.

bombshell ailes john lithgow

Show me what I want

The movie does one of the strongest jobs in making the celebrities look like their counterparts.  In addition to make-up, they have to put make-up on the make-up to make them right for TV.  Pulling up the Megyn Kelly of the famous Trump debate and comparing her Charlize Theron, you could make you do a double take.  John Lithgow doesn’t entirely look like Ailes but manages to get Ailes’ facial expressions down.  Nicole Kidman makes a strong Gretchen Carlson but things like Richard Kind’s Rudy Giulliani and Tony Plana’s Gerald Rivera do feel a little more like dress-up than the stars.

Bombshell is on the right track, but doesn’t make it over the hump.  It is the type of movie you can see is going for the Oscar gold and is taking films like Vice, The Social Network, and The Big Short as models on how to do that.  It gets too caught up in the pursuit and feels like it misses the bigger issues of the toxic work environment created in the film and how that environment is seen replicated all over the world in different scales…it feels like that is the story of Bombshell that is missing, and I wish they had explored.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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