Mumbo Trumbo (Movie Thoughts: Trumbo)

imagesI’ve planned to see “trumbo” a couple of times now, but something’s held me back. When Bryan Cranston got Screen Actor’s Guild and Golden Globe nominations this week, I told myself maybe I should see the film, if only for his performance.

Well, I should have trusted my instincts. “Trumbo” for me was a waste of time – a lifeless biopic about Dalton Trumbo, one of the Hollywood 10, who was targeted by Congress in the mid 50s because they were Communists. They were sent to jail for contempt of court, and were later blacklisted from Hollywood. Trumbo then started writing screenplays uncredited, among them “Roman Holiday,” And “The Brave One,” which both won Oscars.

Interesting enough story, right? John McNamara’s screenplay here is boring and slow. Trumbo himself was written in such a vague light that I felt like I never really knew him. Plus, I had read that the man himself was animated and funny, and that never translated on screen. Cranston tries hard, but is saddled with this lifeless script. He is surrounded by cardboard characters, no one is fleshed enough that you don’t really want to care to know any of them. Does Cranston deserve the nomination? Maybe for effort, but off the top of my head, I can think of a dozen better choices. Plus, he doesn’t have the kind of screen presence that is engaging. It may have worked enough for the small screen in ‘Breaking Bad’ but obviously it’s not enough for the Cineplexes. One is better enough renting “Roman Holiday” or “The Brave One.”

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