Trumbo Movie Review
To think, had Bryan Cranston not done “Breaking Bad” all those years ago, he likely would still be remembered only as the dad from “Malcolm in the Middle” and not be given roles such as Dalton Trumbo in Trumbo, a well-acted drama about the blacklisted screenwriter that unfortunately isn’t nearly as creative as anything the Oscar-winner devised in his lifetime.
Spanning several decades, Trumbo is a fairly routine biopic that hits on the many interesting points in the man’s career but does little to piece them together into anything particularly substantive. Director Jay Roach (Austin Powers, Meet the Parents) simply does a serviceable job—there just isn’t anything remarkable about the movie.
Even Cranston isn’t impervious. While he does a great job in many ways, his performance often seems more like an impersonation than a three-dimensional immersion into the character, though such shortcomings are more a symptom of the surface-level screenplay by John McNamara than anything else. The screenplay tells us about Dalton Trumbo, but doesn’t dig into what made him tick.
Trumbo is rescued by its title character and his interesting life. From successful writer to convicted prisoner to champion for freedom of speech, it’s no surprise that someone made a movie about him. Having known little about the man going into the film, I found many of his life’s milestones and achievements to be interesting, even if the movie itself doesn’t do a great job of portraying them. Trumbo does get better as the story develops, in part thanks to the injection of a few entertaining characters, most notably Frank King (John Goodman).
But in the end, Trumbo is merely a mildly entertaining drama that is severely limited by routine writing and direction.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.