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Trumbo

By Courtland Hopkins

“Trumbo” tells the story of Dalton Trumbo, leftist Hollywood rebel and activist who was part of the Hollywood Ten and was blacklisted in the 50s. The movie covers Trumbo’s secret war against the blacklist and its right wing supporters. He was an artist/activist fighting for the artistic freedom of those who make movies.

However, that is the part of the movie that works. Another section of the movie is dedicated to these long debates between Trumbo(played by Bryan Cranston) and Arlen Hird (a composite of several blacklisted writers played by Louis CK.) These debates seem to be all about ideological purity and the morals of what they are fighting for during this conflict. These parts are so moralizing and self-righteous they derail the fun, thought-provoking movie Trumbo is attempting to be.

The second half movie is the best part, as we enter a kind of caper movie with Dalton Trumbo and his friends try to still write scripts after being blacklisted. The film has excellent set design and production. I feel as if I am in the 50’s when watching the film. The part of the film that needs to be critiqued is its script. I felt that the line from the movie where Kirk Douglas wants Dalton Trumbo to fix his script for Spartacus is very apt for the movie: “Theres a good story in there about one man trying to take on the whole world.” That is what this movie was about, however, someone tried to shoehorn Louis CK into the movie and it really slows down the pace. The sad part is that the most comically gifted actor in the movie has the least funny role .

I liked this movie, but it frustrated me because it could have been so much better. The characters are really fun and the movie is thought-provoking as well as entertaining (a good combination) but the weakest parts nearly derail it. But everybody else saves the movie. Alan Tudyk is as charming as ever, Elle Fanning gives a solid performance as his daughter trying to cope with a rebel dad, Michael Stuhlberg gives a poignant performance as Edward G. Robinson, Helen Mirren is thoroughly nasty as Trumbo’s enemy and John Goodman gives a great performance as the howling fat man. Cranston gives a superb performance as Trumbo. I just wish he didn’t moralize at me so much. In the end I would say the good story comes out despite its flaws. There is genuine wit and smart humor in this movie it is not perfect but I would say worth the effort. I say see it.

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Posted in All Reviews, By Courtland Hopkins.

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