Bombshell Movie Review

Charlize Theron’s Megyn Kelly and dozens of other women deal with their own monster in Jay Roach’s Bombshell, a retelling of the Fox News harassment scandal that ended the reign of founder Roger Ailes. The ripped from the headlines tale features outstanding performances, incredible makeup work, and at least a handful of scenes that strike the right chord.

The film focuses primarily on three women in different stages of dealing with Ailes, as played by John Lithgow. Kelly is the star with her own highly successful primetime hour and loads of ambition. Nicole Kidman’s Gretchen Carlson is seeing her career on the downslide. She’s been moved from a top rated morning show to the desert of afternoon programming. Much of this has to do with her rebuffing the advances of Ailes. Carlson is already making moves to hold Ailes accountable while Kelly is conflicted. The fictional and composite character of Kayla (Margot Robbie) is just starting her journey at the network. In many ways, her role is the most fascinating. They say don’t meet your heroes and as a young conservative landing her dream gig, she (and her family) worship at the altar of the Fox logo. When Kayla maneuvers an introduction to Roger, her nightmare begins and a scene where the head honcho “auditions” her is horrific.

Charles Randolph’s screenplay peppers in many characters involved in the sordid saga. This allows for plenty of recognizable faces playing very or semi recognizable figures, including Allison Janney as Ailes attorney Susan Estrich, Malcolm McDowell as Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch, and Richard Kind as loyal defender Rudy Giuliani. There’s also Kate McKinnon as Kayla’s confidante in the bullpen. Yet it’s the quartet of leads that eat up most screen time. Theron’s transformation to Kelly is pretty remarkable. Much of that is due to her performance and capturing her mannerisms, but the makeup work of Kazu Hiro and team must be mentioned. The writing of Ailes is well handled as the script doesn’t shy away from his creepiness. It also doesn’t shy away from his connection to people and that he got to the top of the mountain with his abilities. After all, it’s those traits that sadly allowed many to stay silent for so long. Robbie’s character is the most conflicted. Her eventual face to face with Kelly regarding Roger’s behavior takes an unexpected turn worthy of conversation afterwards.

Perhaps the best scene occurs in 2006 and it involves Rudi Bakhtiar (Nazanin Boniadi). Her harassment comes not from Ailes, but as a direct result of the culture he created. When her incident occurs, we hear her inner monologue while she attempts to navigate her way out of it. We know that so many others heard that voice and Bombshell holds our interest in showing us where those voices led them.

*** (out of four)

Bombshell Box Office Prediction

The true story of the sexual harassment claims took down Fox News CEO Roger Ailes is dropped in theaters next weekend with the release of Bombshell. Jay Roach directs Charlize Theron in the role of Megyn Kelly and Nicole Kidman as Gretchen Carlson. The supporting cast includes Margot Robbie, Kate McKinnon, Connie Britton, Malcolm McDowell, and John Lithgow as Ailes.

Bombshell, just today, was a surprise multiple nominee for the SAG Awards. It garnered four nods – Ensemble and the performances of Theron, Kidman, and Robbie. Whether or not Oscar nods follow remains to be seen, but it’s certainly in the mix. That buzz should help it gather some eyeballs, but it could experience a gradual rollout like many adult oriented holiday titles do.

The film opens directly against Cats, which will be going for much of the same demographic. There’s also Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, which appeals to pretty much everyone. I believe this will be lucky to reach $10 million for its start. Yet this stands a solid chance at legging out positively in the weekends ahead.

Bombshell opening weekend prediction: $6.9 million

For my Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/12/10/star-wars-the-rise-of-skywalker-box-office-prediction/

For my Cats prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/12/11/cats-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch: Bombshell

Over two months ahead of its December 20th opening, Bombshell has held press screenings and Oscar talk has exploded for it. The Lionsgate release chronicles the downfall of Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes amid sexual harassment claims. It comes from director Jay Roach. He may be best known for the Austin Powers and Meet the Parents franchises, but he’s also had a trio of HBO dramas with political bents (Recount, Game Change, All the Way).

Much of the early chatter is centered on Charlize Theron, who stars as Megyn Kelly. Her performance is said to be uncanny. A third Best Actress nod seems highly probable. Theron took home the gold statue sixteen years ago for Monster and was nominated two years later for North Country. Some buzz even suggests she could threaten to win over current front runner Renee Zellweger in Judy.

As for supporting turns, John Lithgow is Ailes. He could contend, but Supporting Actor is already incredibly crowded. In Supporting Actress, we could see Margot Robbie and Nicole Kidman (as Gretchen Carlson) vying for attention. The edge could go to Robbie, who risks splitting votes with herself from Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. At this point, a nod for this seems slightly more feasible.

Bottom line: expect acting attention from Academy voters for Bombshell and Picture inclusion is also on the table (perhaps we’re seeing this year’s Vice). My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Yesterday Box Office Prediction

Oscar winning director Danny Boyle, who clearly enjoys playing in multiple genres, tries his hand at a musical comedy next weekend with Yesterday. The high concept pic puts forth the theory that only one aspiring songwriter (Himesh Patel) rememberers The Beatles and cashes in on the world’s memory loss. Costars include Lily James, Kate McKinnon, and Ed Sheeran.

Mr. Boyle, as mentioned, has a varied filmography that includes Trainspotting and its sequel, 28 Days Later and its follow-up, Best Picture winner Slumdog Millionaire, and Steve Jobs. When Yesterday premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, its so-so reception killed any potential awards chatter. The Rotten Tomatoes score is 68%.

While there’s legions of Fab Four fans out there, I don’t see this turning into a summer sleeper. I believe this will struggle to reach $10 million.

Yesterday opening weekend prediction: $9.1 million

For my Annabelle Comes Home prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/06/18/annabelle-comes-home-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch: Yesterday

Premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival over the weekend, the comedic fantasy Yesterday comes with plenty of behind the scenes players with awards credentials. The high concept story imagines a world where the songs of The Beatles have all been forgotten, except by a young aspiring songwriter (Himesh Patel). It’s his duty to re-educate the populace about the Fab Four. Costars include Lily James, Kate McKinnon, and Ed Sheeran (playing himself).

The aforementioned pedigree starts at the top. Director Danny Boyle has had one of the most eclectic filmographies in memory. His works include a Best Picture winner (2008’s Slumdog Millionaire) and a nominee two years later (127 Hours). They also include cult favorites such as Trainspotting, the acclaimed zombie tales 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later, and sci-fi thriller Sunshine. There’s also Steve Jobs, which never materialized as the awards contender that prognosticators thought it could be.

Additionally, the screenplay comes from Richard Curtis. He received an Oscar nod 25 years ago for Four Weddings and a Funeral. Other written works of note include Notting Hill, Bridget Jones’s Diary, and Love Actually.

As you can see, it’s pretty clear why Yesterday could be looked at as an Oscar player today due to the talent involved. Yet after its festival debut ahead of its June release, reviews are telling a different story. Some are positive, but others are decidedly not. Some critics are breaking out their best Beatles puns with one stating it never quite comes together.

Bottom line: we’ll see if Yesterday can manage to be a profitable crowd pleaser, but don’t expect this to be a factor come with nominations down the line. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

The Spy Who Dumped Me Box Office Prediction

Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon team up for the action comedy The Spy Who Dumped Me, out next weekend. As the title suggests, Kunis finds out her ex is a CIA agent and she (along with bff McKinnon) become embroiled in international intrigue. Susanna Fogel directs with a supporting cast including Justin Theroux and Sam Heughan.

Kunis has had plenty of successes at the box office over her career in both leading and supporting parts. Most recently, 2016’s Bad Moms was a sleeper hit ($113 million). However, sequel A Bad Moms Christmas couldn’t match it with a $16.7 million debut and $72 million overall tally.

The trailers for Spy struggle to make it look like anything special. Its best hope is for a sizable female audience (the kind that made Ocean’s 8 a big success last month). I’ll project a low to mid teens is the likely scenario here.

The Spy Who Dumped Me opening weekend prediction: $15.3 million

For my Christopher Robin prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/07/24/christopher-robin-box-office-prediction/

For my The Darkest Minds prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/07/24/the-darkest-minds-box-office-prediction/

Ferdinand Box Office Prediction

Next Friday, the makers of the animated Ferdinand hope to siphon some youngsters and their parents away from Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The 20th Century Fox title (which happens to be the former studio of Luke Skywalker and company) is based on the 1936 children’s novel The Story of Ferdinand, which tells the tale of a kindly bull. John Cena provides the voice of said bull with Kate McKinnon, Anthony Anderson, Bobby Cannavale, Gina Rodriguez, and Peyton Manning also lending their sounds. Carlos Saldanha, who made some of the Ice Age and Rio features, directs.

Competition is significant. Many kids should be preoccupied with Disney’s franchise juggernaut that opens the same day. And there’s also Coco, which should still be pulling in some coin in weekend #4.

That said, Fox employed a similar strategy two years ago when Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip opened directly opposite Star Wars: The Force Awakens. That gamble resulted in an OK $14.2 million debut yet it experienced small declines over the following holiday weekends.

Ferdinand has the benefit of not being at the tail end of a waning franchise, as Chipmunks was. That might cause it to make a bit more out of the gate and probably hold better in future frames. I’ll go high teens for its start.

Ferdinand opening weekend prediction: $18.6 million

For my Star Wars: The Last Jedi prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/12/04/star-wars-the-last-jedi-box-office-prediction/

Leap! Box Office Prediction

The final animated feature of summer 2017 arrives next weekend when Leap! debuts in theaters. It will likely earn the least of them all. The tale of an orphan trying to become a ballerina has already opened in other parts of the world under the title Ballerina. It debuted in parts of Europe last December and in Canada this past February with a $57 million global tally.

Featuring the voices of Elle Fanning, Nat Wolff, Kate McKinnon, Carly Rae Jepsen, and Mel Brooks, the $30 million budgeted pic stands at a decent 76% on Rotten Tomatoes. Its stateside premiere comes in late August where studios aren’t exactly expecting heavy grosses. It may manage to be the biggest debut of the weekend (against All Saints, Birth of the Dragon, and Good Time). That’s not saying much.

Family audiences have seen plenty of animated tales this summer from Despicable Me 3 to Cars 3 to The Emoji Movie to Captain Underpants to The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature, which opened poorly just last weekend. With little ones returning to school, Leap! should have a tough road attracting eyeballs. A decent comp could be the Shaun the Sheep Movie from two summers ago, which managed only $4 million in its August premiere. That’s right about where I have this one.

Leap! opening weekend prediction: $4.1 million

For my All Saints prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/08/16/all-saints-box-office-prediction/

For my Birth of the Dragon prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/08/17/birth-of-the-dragon-box-office-prediction/

For my Good Time prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/08/21/good-time-box-office-prediction/

Rough Night Box Office Prediction

Scarlett Johansson gets out of action mode and into comedy mode next weekend when Rough Nights lands in theaters. The R rated flick finds the starlet involved in a bachelorette party gone wrong. Costars include Kate McKinnon, Jillian Bell, Zoe Kravitz, Ilana Glazer, Demi Moore, and Ty Burrell.

Originally titled Rock That Body, the pic will attempt to bring a sizable female audience that made Bad Moms one of the surprise hits of last summer. There is competition in the form of the third weekend of Wonder Woman, which is likely to be banking in the low 30s for that frame.

Johansson could use some good box office fortune after the flop that was this spring’s Ghost in the Shell. Some estimates have Rough Night making around $25 million (higher than the $23 million achieved by Bad Moms out of the gate). I believe the level of competition and lack of buzz will result in a mid teens debut.

Rough Night opening weekend prediction: $15.1 million

For my Cars 3 prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/06/07/cars-3-box-office-prediction/

For my All Eyez on Me prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/06/09/all-eyez-on-me-box-office-prediction/

For my 47 Meters Down prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/06/09/47-meters-down-box-office-prediction/

Office Christmas Party Movie Review

A good portion of the populace can probably relate to that work holiday gathering we’d rather forget. Maybe one or several drinks too many. Perhaps a comment to a coworker that doesn’t seem wise later in the light of day. There’s a lot of funny directions you can go with the concept of Office Christmas Party, but the film mostly misuses them as it hurls in too many directions. The end result is one we’ll forget quickly after we’ve experienced it.

Director Will Speck and Josh Gordon give us their third major feature. It’s not as good as their first (Blades of Glory) nor as bad as their last (The Switch). The latter featured Jason Bateman and Jennifer Aniston and so does this. Bateman is chief tech officer of Chicago corporation Zenotech, a family business run by Aniston. She’s the unfriendly task master and bottom line efficiency expert that her employees are afraid of. Her brother (T.J. Miller) is the free spirit who runs the day-to-day operations. He’s not great at his job, but his minions adore him.

Tough financial times cause the possibility of the Windy City branch closing. Bateman and Miller decide to throw an all-out Yuletide bash in a last-ditch attempt to woo a big money client (Courtney B. Vance, last seen gloriously chewing scenery as Johnnie Cochran in “The People Vs. O.J. Simpson”). Here, instead of memorably defending America’s most notorious running back, he gets sprayed in the face with a snow machine filled with cocaine.

There’s plenty of R rated comedy as the employees let loose and there’s a lot of them and their subplots to keep up with. We have the single mom (Vanessa Bayer) looking for companionship (it’s one of the more humorous ones). There’s Bateman’s assistant (Olivia Munn) and their romantic tension (it’s one of the more boring ones). And supremely talented comedic actors like Kate McKinnon (who has her moments) and Rob Corddry are in the mix as well. Jillian Bell, who made a hilarious villain in 22 Jump Street, plays a drug dealer here and her inclusion is mostly wasted. The main plot involves the love/hate relationship between siblings Miller and Aniston and it doesn’t provide much (other than a chance to see the former “Friends” star berate a little girl in an airport).

With this cast, there are bound to be some decently humorous bits here and there, but Office Christmas Party might have been more successful with a little more focus among the ribaldry.

** (out of four)