Jay Roach's approach to the sexual harassment lawsuit that rocked FOX News is not quite "fair and balanced," but it sure is fun.
The best part of Jay Roach's comedic-drama "Bombshell" is in its portrayal of former FOX News CEO Roger Ailes (John Lithgow, under heavy prosthetics) who shortly before his death in 2017, was forced to resign his position following a terrible sex abuse scandal that spanned several years. Roach - and a stellar performance by Lithgow - make Ailes into a three-dimensional person with richness and nuance...a startling revelation when you consider that it would have been very easy to characterize Ailes as the treacherous, villainous monster that he was alleged to be.
In fact, there's a surprising amount of detail and care existing in "Bombshell," considering that this movie is partially a sharp send-up of the lunacy and hypocrisy that exists within FOX News. Fictitious associate producer Kayla Pospisil (Margot Robbie) is created by the filmmakers to give them the chance to weave a single narrative through several happenings that occurred at the network, from the resignation and "bombshell" claims of sexual harassment from former FOX News anchor Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman) to the dilemma experienced by Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron), the most prominent female anchor on-air at the time of the scandal. All three women are presented with depth as their actions eventually bring down one of the most powerful men in all of media.
The main problem with "Bombshell" is that it contains no real revelations. Most of what is dealt with is surface-level, and the script loses focus as it tries to poke fun at the various personalities on and around FOX News.
Much of the fun of "Bombshell" is in seeing if you can pick out the next hilarious cameo, whether it be Jeanine Pirro (Alanna Ubach), Kimberly Guilfoyle (Bree Condon) or the fleeting appearance of Sean Hannity (Spencer Garrett). Look for Richard Kind as Rudy Giuliani mixed in as well. But each "character" that shows up acts as a distraction away from the main story-line and serves no real purpose other than to amuse.
"Bombshell" makes a real case for practical make-up and costumes, in an era of digital de-aging processes. Kidman and especially Theron, completely melt away into their real-life personas with the help of outstanding prosthetics. The actresses are all at the top of their game in their portrayals, especially Theron who even seems to lower her voice a few octaves and gets Megyn Kelly's mannerisms down perfectly.
The story is light and moves quickly, and it's quite funny, if you happen to be on the side of things that sees FOX News for what it is. But this is not a "fair and balanced" examination, or at least I'd imagine that's the take-away if you happen to lean right. "Bombshell" is a timely movie that exposes an ugly underbelly of an even uglier enterprise, but this movie seems to be more interested in reporting the news as entertainment, instead of searching for the facts and contextualizing their meaning.
Genre: Biography, Drama, Comedy.
Run Time: 1 hour 48 minutes.
Starring: Margot Robbie, Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, Alice Eve, Connie Britton, Kate McKinnon, John Lithgow, Allison Janney, Alanna Ubach.
Directed by Jay Roach ("Trumbo," "The Campaign," "Dinner for Schmucks," "Meet the Fockers," "Meet the Parents," "Mystery, Alaska," "Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery").
"Bombshell" is in theaters on Friday, December 20th, 2019.
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