Jay Roach’s “Bombshell” is the third in a line of movies that deal with serious, modern political issues in an amusing way. Two movies that preceded “Bombshell,” “The Big Short” and “Vice,” present harsh facts in a way that says “this is so awkwardly destructive that I can’t help but laugh.” “Bombshell” has a similar tone, but I think it isn’t really called for given the subject matter.
The film follows three Fox News employees: Megyn Kelly, Gretchen Carlson and a fictionalized character that combines the traits of multiple women who have worked in that environment. Their experiences at Fox are heavily marred by sexual harassment and abuse by their creepy boss, Roger Ailes.
There are a few different (and conflicting) techniques in how Roach chooses to tell this story, but it’s mostly stylized as a documentary-esque look at what these women faced at their misogynistic workplace.
So far, so good on a technical level. Framing this as if it is a documentary is probably a good choice in order to maximize the sleaziness on display. If you manage to hit such a realistic chord, you can reasonably convince people that this was an awful place to work as a woman and, let’s face it, it was.
However, what Roach didn’t take from documentaries that deal with difficult subject matter is a properly serious tone. Much like “Vice” and “The Big Short,” the absurdity of the “bad guys” is played more for laughs than it is for actual emotional impact.
I’m all for having a dark sense of humor, but we’re still in the midst of the #MeToo movement and we already have a quirky movie that seems more concerned with making fun of Fox News than holding them accountable. That being said, there are a few horrifying sequences in “Bombshell” that really work to play up the twisted nature of the world these women inhabit. They’re gut-punches, completely brutal and difficult to get out of your mind. And they also are exactly the type of scenes a movie like this needs, in my opinion. But these scenes of pure torment also serve as a reminder that a more powerful film was hiding behind the less-than-impressive product that was actually released.
Sam Zavada is a copy editor with The Standard-Speaker in Hazleton. He previously served as the news clerk at The Standard-Speaker, working with the obituaries and the community and lifestyle pages. Sam’s work in print dates back to his time at King’s College, where he spent two years as the editor in chief of the school’s newspaper, The Crown. Earlier in his time with The Crown, he worked as a staff writer and the entertainment manager. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.