Brief aside: I love this movie. I’m going to be honest about it’s faults. But I love this movie.
I was also very drunk when I watched it and I kept turning to my girlfriend, pausing the film, and whispering, “I love this movie.”
I also happen to love movies about the McCarthy era. Because every time I watch one, I think that this shit is happening again. Right now. We never learn, do we?
Trumbo continues the tradition of pointing out how fucking ridiculous the 50’s were for anyone who was slightly liberal. Dalton Trumbo, played by the brilliant Bryan Cranston, is a Hollywood screenwriter. He’s also a communist. Which back then really meant socialist. Which now means he was for welfare and social security. What a pinko bastard.
But it was the height of the Cold War, and America was terrified by the red menace. A congressional hearing was called against Trumbo and many of his fellow Hollywood creatives. Opinions became facts and facts were punted out of the room and global warming was proved to be a hoax.
No, Trumbo and several others went to prison for contempt of congress, since they didn’t actually do anything wrong, and any liberal Hollywood actor/producer/writer was blackballed from working in the movie business.
So Trumbo finds a pseudonym and a film company that doesn’t care that he’s been blackballed, and starts writing scripts again. Two of them earn academy awards (one of them being a little film named Roman Holiday. Heard of it?)
It’s the underdog climbing their way to the top. The man getting their comeuppance. And a chance to watch Bryan Cranston act circles around other actors, like watching Steph Curry do a crossover on some middle-schoolers, ankles are getting broken.
But this movie is almost too good. It’s a film about a writer, for writers. Everything Trumbo says is too perfect. They’re amazing, but sometimes fiction bleeds into the reality. Doesn’t mean it’s not fun, but it does mean it’s idealizing. And that’s still a fault. In every scene Trumbo has the line to pounce back at any slight. To pontificate on the meaning of screenwriting, to convince a friend about the justice of their cause. It almost makes him superhuman.
Trumbo is bitingly witty. It’s funny. John Goodman threatens someone with a bat. Louis C.K. plays himself. It’s everything you’d want out of a period piece drama. Cranston was nominated for an academy award for a reason, but no one’s crying that nothing else in the film was nominated.
3 out of 4 stars.
P.S. Fuck Joseph McCarthy.