Review: “Trumbo” Is Another Strong Showing From Bryan Cranston; Still Falls Short



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Posted January 4, 2016 by

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Dalton Trumbo was one of the most celebrated writers in Hollywood, he had also won a National Book Award for his novel “Johnny Got His Gun“, but in 1947 Trumbo and nine of his co-workers and friends (known as The Hollywood Ten) refused to testify before the HUAC during their investigation on communist activity and its influences in the Motion Picture business, and were blacklisted from Hollywood. Out of work and out of money, Trumbo began writing under fake names in order to continue making movies. While blacklisted, Trumbo won Academy Awards for his films “Roman Holiday” and “The Brave One”; proving that his work could make even those that hated him appreciate it. “Trumbo” follows the hard times Dalton lived through, and how he almost tore apart his family trying to provide for them.

Before ‘Breaking Bad’, we knew and thought of Cranston as the lovable father from ‘Malcom In the Middle’. After ‘Breaking Bad’, we realized that the man can act his ass of as well; commanding attention with subtle looks, that deep, gravely voice, and a wide range of emotion. In ‘Trumbo’, Cranston blends both comedy and drama into one character and gives us a fully fleshed out portrayal of this man many of us didn’t know, but will grow to admire. His performance is so strong I’m sure they could have done away with most of the story and I would have happily watched him go about his normal daily routine for two hours.


Diane Lane plays Cleo Trumbo: a strong woman and mother that stood up to Dalton when he was being an ass and stood by Dalton when he was being persecuted. While it’s a quieter role, Lane does a fantastic job at showing us how Cleo was the thread of the family that kept them all together. Then you have Hellen Mirren. One of the best actresses of all-time, Mirren can play so many different roles and either make you love her or hate her. In ‘Trumbo’ she is absolutely hatable as Hedda Hopper — the woman who would stop at nothing to keep Trumbo out of Hollywood forever. The smugness she exudes drove me crazy, which also meant I was watching great acting.

The thing about this movie that I didn’t like was two impersonations for two big roles in the film. The first was John Wayne played by David James Elliott and the second was Kirk Douglas played by Dean O’Gorman. While these two men, in real life, were central to the story, having two guys that vaguely look like them in a certain light isn’t enough to give them large speaking roles that will definitely take you out of the movie. It came off as hokey and made me uncomfortable to watch these guys try to impersonate such known people in the same room as Hellen Mirren and Bryan Cranston delivering their lines. I’m sure both guys are great actors outside of these roles, but it added a cheapness to the overall production that kept me from loving this film.

Dalton Trumbo truly led a spectacular life and while you’re not going to get all of that into the length of the film, Jay Roach (Meet the Parents, Austin Powers) does a damn good job at creating the story and giving us enough information to really care about this character and person. This film may not be for everyone, but if you’re a writer you will definitely want to check this out.





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