Movie Review: Bombshell (2019)

My advice to people who’ve lost their job: go back to the things that made you from the start.

-Gretchen Carlson-

There are some spoilers in this review!

Behind the Closed Doors of Bombshell

The door of the Me Too movement was broken down by the arrest and trial of Harvey Weinstein, but there were others who were forced to answer for their past behavior. Roger Ailes was one of them. Before he found himself in the middle of a sexual harassment claim by former Fox News host, Gretchen Carlson, he was instrumental in helping Republican candidates winning their elections including Nixon, Reagan, Bush, and Trump. He was basically everywhere and anywhere he could influence conservative politics and media. There have been more women who have accused him of sexual harassment after Carlson’s lawsuit. They included but not limited to Marsha Callahan, Shelley Ross, Kellie Boyle, Andrea Tantaros, Laurie Luhn, Rudi Bakhtiar, and Megyn Kelly. His family denies these claims, but the words of his accusers were heard, loud and clear.

Bombshell is a movie about the bravery of the women at Fox News and how it was unveiled for the world to see and hear. It was directed by Jay Roach and written by Charles Randolph. The main cast is John Lithgow as Roger Ailes, Charlize Theron as Megyn Kelly, Nicole Kidman as Gretchen Carlson, Allison Janney as Susan Estrich, Malcolm McDowell as Rupert Murdoch, Connie Britton as Beth Ailes, Margot Robbie as Kayla Pospisil, and Kate McKinnon as Jess Carr. It is rated R for sexual material and language throughout. This biography/drama has a running time one hour and 49 minutes. As with the documentary I saw about Roger Ailes, this was just as captivating.

No Longer Just a Man’s World

Even though the movie fizzled in the box office, my entry into Fox News via Charlize Theron as Megyn Kelly was what people call the hook. It catches your attention and doesn’t let up. I learned more about Gretchen Carlson’s struggles while at Fox and after she sued Ailes. The story also focuses on Kayla Pospisil, based from a combination of women who worked at Fox News. As the three women wrestle with their professional struggles and personal feelings, they all need to make a decision about their careers. How much is Gretchen Carlson willing to stand up for herself? How much is Megyn willing to speak out about her hostile work environment? How much is Kayla willing to do for her career? When loyalty is the hallmark of Fox News (read Roger Ailes), will anything ever sideline him in a meaningful way?

Watch the Trailer

Overall View of Bombshell

Humans are complex individuals. We say things we don’t mean. We do things we shouldn’t. This isn’t me excusing what happened at Fox News. Anyone who has read my past blogs knows I’m not okay with sexual harassment in the workplace. I see things with a level head, most of the time, and can usually put myself in the shoes of someone opposite of me. That is what an creative person does. I say this because after Megyn Kelly left Fox and was fired from NBC, she still should be remembered for taking a stand. The same goes for Gretchen Carlson. I give credit where credit is due. Another reason to watch Bombshell is the great performance of John Lithgow as Roger Ailes. It shows the enormous power of the bystander effect, but also the vindication of actively speaking out when it is the right thing to do. It’s a take the king down kind of movie. Every institution has many beginnings, middles, and ends. They subtract and grow. People die and new ones come in. Nothing remains truly static. Not Fox News, not MSNBC, and definitely not Roger Ailes.

I rate Bombshell Four Fingers and One Thumb at GREAT at 95%.

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