‘Trumbo’ only needs a slight rewrite

The film industry has a lot of black marks on its record, with the Hollywood blacklist being one of the most signficant.

“Trumbo,” directed by Jay Roach and starring Bryan Cranston and Diane Lane, is an interesting and inspirational tale that stumbles in the pitfalls of stereotypical inspirational films. 


Dalton Trumbo was once one of the top screenwriters in the industry. Trumbo, who is on the verge of signing a record-breaking contract to a big studio, and a few of his writer friends are called to a congressional hearing for being communists.

The screenwriter struggles to find work after being jailed and blacklisted. Trumbo soon realizes the best way to start working again, and to destroy the blacklist, is by using a fake name. 

Trumbo’s biggest problem falls in the hands of the director, and for any film a good director is key to its success. 

Directing is a powerful job, as it is the creative force behind a movie. A director is in charge of setting up shots, developing and executing a style and tone, and leading the actors. 

While Roach did not write the script for the film, he was responsible for the story that ended up on screen. The ideas of this film are portrayed as a bit trite and clichéd. 

The most obvious issue is in how people talk. Trumbo, for example, talks almost only in cheesy inspirational quotes as if he were just reading motivational posters.

While humorous at first, and Cranston does a lot to make it feel real, it becomes a bit annoying and overdone as the film progresses.


The cast is the best part of this film. To say this cast has a phenomenal group of actors is an understatement.

Cranston, Lane, John Goodman and Helen Mirren are only a few names of the actors, and each help make their characters multi-dimensional. Cranston yet again leads them pack in helping his sometimes one-note character evolve. 

He plays the screenwriter Trumbo, and plays the cartoon-style character with enough gravitas and levity that he seems real and relatable.

“Trumbo” also presents its message well. While the film is generic at times, it handles censorship and the horror of the blacklist pretty well.

Seeing the trials and tribulations a man like Trumbo had to go through shows the havoc the list caused for others.

The film also shows both sides of the argument. A lesser film would have presented Mirren’s character, a big implementer of the list, as the devil incarnate.  

But she is given her due process, and her reasons come off as flawed yet interesting.

Stars: 3.5 of 5. 

Jacob Pierce can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @JacobPierce1_DE.