Director Jay Roach broke into the industry during the 90s as the fresh new comedic voice behind beloved classics like Austin Powers and Meet the Parents, both of which spawned successful movie franchises of their own. But despite the loads of laughs he’s generated over the years, Roach finds himself immersed in a much more serious light with the filmmaker’s latest effort, Bombshell. Chronicling Fox News Anchor Gretchen Carlson’s courageous lawsuit that exposed the despicable behaviors of former CEO Roger Ailes and became a precursor to the #MeToo movement, Roach’s important subject matter sadly disappears in a fumbling and erratic narrative that puts shock value and salacious details over character-depth and emotional substance.
After watching her career as a Fox News Anchor crumble in the wake of rejecting sexual advancements by her boss, Roger Ailes (John Lithgow), Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman) reaches out to a group of attorneys to help bring this monster down. Unfortunately, their lawsuit’s credibility hangs in the balance of the other women at Fox News who have fell victim to this systemic inappropriate misconduct and whether or not they’ll speak up against their bosses. Thankfully, truth reigns victorious when brave young women like the fictitious Kayla (Margot Robbie) and the influential voice, Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron), decide to betray the hands that feed them and stand up against Ailes and the repulsive misogynistic culture he created at Fox News.
Bombshell is a disgustingly slanted and politically motivated drama that cares more about bashing Roger Ailes and “Right Wing Media” in general, than recognizing an obligation to tell a truly personal story of sexual abuse and the rippling effects of staying silent. Look no further than the tasteless title bestowed upon the film, one in which playfully tiptoes around the severity of these documented events. Instead, Roach force-feeds an obnoxious amount of anti-Trump rhetoric that grows frustratingly asinine, even to a left-leaning “snowflake” like myself. Still, what I was hoping for in Bombshell was a poignant and uncomfortable examination of victimhood and the collateral damage of these psychological horrors. Yet, depth is nowhere to be found here. Rather, Roach and writer Charles Randolph devote their two hours of storytelling to a TMZ-esque interpretation of these real-life tragedies. The film acts as a nonchalant head-nod to these victims via a headline and premise, instead of corralling the responsibility of pioneering social change through a visual and experiential lens. Occasionally, the magnitude of certain moments is definitely felt and captured adequately by the director, but these moments are mostly the result of a superior collection of acting talent that includes Academy Award Winners Nicole Kidman and Charlize Theron and Oscar Nominated actress, Margot Robbie. This trio of strong women all have to fight against the labels of feminism in their quest for justice and civility. It’s also worth noting the supporting work of Saturday Night Live’s Kate McKinnon and John Lithgow, both of whom completely command the screen at every opportunity. There’s certainly a bigger, bolder and more impactful story buried within the truth surrounding Roger Ailes his malicious oversight of Fox News. Unfortunately, Jay Roach fails to give us anything remotely close to that in Bombshell’s immature and perverse retelling of a reprehensible and disturbing era in American history.