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also known as “Dalton Trumbo, “L'ultima parola - La vera storia di Dalton Trumbo,” “Trumbo - Lista Negra”
MPA Rating: R-Rating (MPA) for language including some sexual references.

Reviewed by: Curtis McParland

Extremely Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Biography Drama
2 hr. 4 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
October 23, 2015 (festival)
November 6, 2015 (limited)
November 25, 2015 (expanded)
DVD: February 16, 2016
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Relevant Issues

Radical Communism

Trumbo’s membership card number in the Communist Party was 47187.

About the real Dalton Trumbo (Wikipedia)

Featuring Bryan CranstonDalton Trumbo
Diane LaneCleo Trumbo
Elle FanningNiki Trumbo
John GoodmanFrank King
Helen MirrenHedda Hopper
Director Jay Roach—“Meet the Parents” (2000), “Meet the Fockers” (2004), “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me” (1999)
Producer Groundswell Productions
ShivHans Pictures
Distributor Bleecker Street Media

Dalton Trumbo (Bryan Cranston) is a well-established screenwriter in Hollywood. He has a loving family, a great house, and is a very talented writer. But some trouble is starting to stir up within Hollywood. Trumbo and a few other screenwriters are accused of placing Communist propaganda in the scripts they write. Trumbo is pretty quiet about his political views, but he is in fact a member of the “Communist Party of the USA.” Facing ruined careers, Trumbo and rest of the accused do everything they can to protect their jobs, families, and ultimately their lives. Trumbo learns some lessons and even is imprisoned for a while. But that does not make him change his views nor confess to adding the propaganda to his scripts. Ironically, this film about propaganda is a piece of propaganda itself. But how much truth does it actually speak?

The film’s “R” rating is mainly because of language. There are nearly 25 uses of both the f-word (used sexually as well) and the s-word. Both Jesus and Christ’s names are abused about 10 times total, and God’s name is misused about a dozen times (paired with d*mn on a few occasions). Other milder profanities include b*tch, h*ll, cr*p, p*ss, a*s, and a**h*le—all said about a dozen times total. One character is told to “go to h*ll.” There are also two references to “negroes” which could be offensive to some viewers. There are no sex scenes in “Trumbo,” but it still contains a fair amount of sexual content. A character uses the phrase “sex and money,” showgirls are seen in one scene (not graphic), and a man is seen in the bathtub on a few occasions. Only his bare chest is visible, though.

A man is strip searched by police, and we see him nude from behind. Another shirtless man walks around a film set, some women wear fairly modest bathing suits, a woman wears a low cut dress, and a reference is made to hookers. Crude sexual references are also made on a frequent basis. Vulgar terms for both female and male genitalia are spoken about half a dozen times. A few sex references are made as well. One character tells a very tasteless joke.

“Trumbo” is not very violent, as one character is punched in the face and another carries a gun. Both scenarios are when audiences are watching a movie. Dead animals are seen in a pool, and one character threatens another with a bat in a violent tone. He does not hit the man but smashes things in his office. There is plenty of smoking on display, and alcohol consumption also gets some screen time.

Bryan Cranston is a phenomenal actor and is quite believable in his role as Dalton Trumbo. Most of the other performances are spot on, and the lighting and cinematography are very impressive. The film has a great nostalgic feel to it. However, I am not a big fan of the script. It just does not appear to be tightly bound together with Jay Roache’s solid direction. The film is well-made but still feels a bit rough, empty, and long as it clocks in just over two hours. Some scenes of the film I did not find necessary.

“Trumbo” tells a unique story about a Communist Hollywood writer. Trumbo himself tends to neglect and be harsh with his family on many occasions and always places work before family matters. This doesn’t mean that he can’t be redeemed, though. Trumbo finally realizes how much his family was hurt by his neglect and admits his wrongdoings. Although “Trumbo” contains some positives to the importance of family, reconciliation, and forgiveness, there is one element that really troubled me. The harsh reality of Communism is never portrayed on screen nor referred to and is shown in a somewhat positive light as Trumbo fights a long-term trial with the Hollywood system. The Supreme Court almost appears to be the “bad guys”.

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” —Proverbs 14:12

Communists are also viewed as victims, and Trumbo is viewed as a man fighting for a good cause. In other words, this film tends to subtly celebrate Communism, and Dalton Trumbo is seen as a hero. Sure, he never gave up and persevered through the harsh court trial. But he was also defending the party that we struggle to fight with this very day. Many are murdered, tortured, and imprisoned every day because of their beliefs. Was Trumbo involved in such terror? Probably not. But his story, in particular, may make viewers see a positive side to Communism. To this day, many agree that Communism is an evil political party that revolves around dictatorship and does nothing but destroy the lives of many.

“We must obey God rather than men.” —Acts 5:29

“Trumbo” certainly opens the doorway to misguide its audience by sharing a story about a strong-willed man. But there is much more to the story… much. I cannot recommend this film due to its use of obscene language and the positive messages it sends toward Communism. We may fight a war every day, but, as followers of Christ, we can be reassured that He will lead, guide, and protect, if we submit and place our trust in Him.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” —1 John 4:19

Violence: Mild / Profanity: Extreme / Sex/Nudity: Heavy

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Neutral—After viewing this movie at home with my husband, I found I was offended by all the vulgar and blasphemous cursing but we know that the language used, unfortunately, was appropriate for this biographical film. There was no back or frontal nudity in this film except for “Trumbo” “s chest, back and legs during his prison entrance and his chest in his office which is his tub!

This film, in my opinion, did not glorify or promote Communism, but highlighted the 1st Amendment. The characters were struggling to keep and express their right under this amendment. “The First Amendment guarantees freedoms concerning religion, expression, assembly, and the right to petition. It forbids Congress from both promoting one religion over others and also restricting an individual’s religious practices. It guarantees freedom of expression by prohibiting Congress from restricting the press or the rights of individuals to speak freely. It also guarantees the right of citizens to assemble peaceably and to petition their government. “The supreme court was wrong to try to suppress the communist people from speaking their beliefs.

However, if the movie industry cared about any communist input in the scripts/screenplays, etc. The powers that be should’ve stepped in to change that without government intervention. The McCarthy era “trials and tribulations” put a spotlight on that and many families suffered for their beliefs.

I do not support Communism, but I do support the Bill of Rights and the U.S. Constitution. This movie, in my opinion, represents what occurred at that time in our history. Knowing what I know now would I see it again? -no—strictly for the language and the incessant smoking. Both parents died from lung cancer from smoking and that in itself to me is incredibly sinful to promote poisonous tobacco products.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
Donna, age 61 (USA)
Comments from non-viewers
Negative—I just want to thank the reviewer. This was one of three significant DVD review requests within the past few months. After reviewing “Burnt” and “Our Brand is Crisis,” I thought about applying to review this one. But I’m glad I didn’t have to see it, as I knew about the Communist propaganda in it. I think Curtis McParland did a fantastic job of addressing that issue. Thanks, Curtis!
Gabriel Mohler, age 26 (USA)
Movie Critics
… this rather hastily made period piece is boosted by a few welcome stabs at humor… the film can be far from subtle at times and tends to wear its righteous politics on its sleeve…
Jordan Mintzer, The Hollywood Reporter
…Some scenes feel frustratingly black-and-white in their moral simplicity, such as a confrontation between Trumbo and staunch anti-Communist John Wayne… Wayne comes across like a bullying Biff from “Back to the Future” rather than a man whose deeply felt views were shared by most Americans at the time. Another scene, of Trumbo in jail befriending an African-American inmate, feels oddly forced, as if it’s ticking off a liberal movie “to do” box. …
Rebecca Keegan, Los Angeles Times
…John McNamara’s stodgy screenplay seldom inspires more than mild chuckles, passing up a rich opportunity to satirize the political hypocrisy of the paranoid times it depicts. …
Peter Debruge, Variety
…“Trumbo” is an ill-conceived take on one of the most famous targets of the Hollywood blacklist. …
Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
…The hero’s staying power is both his greatest virtue and the film’s impediment; very little seems to change, aside from his temper and his growing intake of alcohol. …
Anthony Lane, The New Yorker
…Bryan Cranston game and gummy in zippy hymn to Hollywood self-love… “Trumbo” rolls along the rails, never exciting as much as it should… [3/5]
Henry Barnes, The Guardian
…It’s a fun movie and an overbearing one, patly written and crowded with enjoyable faces. It offers useful and still-necessary moral lessons about remaining true to one’s conscience in times of fear and stupidity…
Ty Burr, The Boston Globe
…Hollywood screenwriter Dalton Trumbo fought bravely against his McCarthy-era blacklisting. He deserved better than this try-hard biopic…
Tim Robey, The Telegraph [UK]
…by fixing Trumbo as an archetype and keeping him on the straight and narrow, they sap his story of much of its power. …
Steve MacFarlane, Slant

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