Bombshell

Movie review by
Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media
Bombshell Movie Poster Image
Mature sexual misconduct drama brings headlines to life.
  • R
  • 2019
  • 108 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 6 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Courage inspires courage. The film is an eye-opening account of how women are sexually harassed and manipulated in the workplace, as well as the Herculean bravery and effort it takes to undo the unfair practices of a giant corporation. Because of the sexist treatment women have endured in corporate America, women need to to support each other, even in a competitive environment. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

As portrayed by Nicole Kidman, Gretchen Carlson is shown to be smart, brave, self-confident, resilient, perseverant, a woman of integrity. In filing a lawsuit against her powerful boss, Carlson knocked down the first domino that brought out other women to tell their stories and paved the way for the #MeToo movement. As portrayed by Charlize Theron, Megyn Kelly demonstrates toughness and thoughtfulness required to take on the most powerful men in the world; that said, Kelly's slow decision-making process to support other women is problematic.

Violence

Verbal threat of violence. Sexual harassment/pressure/violence in the workplace is a central theme. A woman asking for a promotion is told to lift her skirt for professional reasons. A presidential candidate tries to "slut shame" (their words) a female professional in an act of revenge.

Sex

Given the subject matter, a lot of blunt talk about sex and insinuations, but nothing graphic happens on screen. Twice it's made clear that sex just occurred; postcoital pillow talk is shown between two different couples. Discussion of well-known male media personality's documented use of a sex toy.

Language

Crass sexual language/profanity includes "ass," "blow job," "bulls--t," "sucks c--k," "crap," "goddamned," "pecker," "a--hole," and "t-ts." Recurring use of "f--k," and "s--t." Also "oh my God," and "Jesus f--king Christ." A man is insulted by the suggestion that he's gay.

Consumerism

Lots of mention of Fox News/properties, but not in a positive light.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters drink wine/alcohol in social/celebratory situations. Drinking "too much" leads to a consensual sexual situation by aspirational characters (presented as funny). A wealthy, powerful executive smokes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Bombshell is director Jay Roach's outstanding fact-based drama about sexual misconduct allegations at Fox News. The film is an eye-opening account of how women are sexually harassed and pressured in the workplace, as well as of the bravery and effort it takes to undo the unfair practices of a giant corporation. It blends the experiences of real-life figures like Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman) and Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron) with those of Kayla (Margot Robbie), a fictional stand-in for women who are less well known. There's lots of talk about sex but no on-screen action, though sex is implied and two women are seen putting their clothes back on after a drunken hook-up. A powerful figure is briefly shown smoking, and there's lots of swearing/crass language ("f--k," "s--t," and more). For a film that takes place in a highly political environment at a highly political time, there's no political preaching. The movie can serve as a useful tool for parents to share with older teens as a warning about how manipulation occurs -- as well as a primer in what constitutes sexist behavior, how it's difficult to counter, and how women truly feel about it.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byMyMovieOpinions January 11, 2020

An Incredible Film That Deserves Much Praise

What a fantastic ensemble! All the major players
deserve Supporting Actor\Actress Nominations and
at least of them should tie for the win. I liked
the mixture... Continue reading
Adult Written byCrp123 January 8, 2020
This is not a kids movie. I wouldn’t even take my teen daughter too it!!
Teen, 13 years old Written byLord of doop February 15, 2020

Good.

Lots of sexual and genderist words and strong language like f - -k sexual context and the normal swearing + d- - k and a— . It is about Fox News ceo making wome... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byEltonJohnFan February 14, 2020

Some parts are hard to watch

This is a eye opening movie that shows sights of how men sexually harass woman in the workplace this was a good movie that had some scenes that were hard to wat... Continue reading

What's the story?

BOMBSHELL looks at the gender politics of Fox News during the 2016 presidential campaign. Anchor Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron) gets wrapped up in a controversy with presidential candidate Donald Trump and finds herself the target of both internal and external criticism. Host Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman) sues the network's powerful CEO, Roger Ailes (John Lithgow), for sexual harassment. Meanwhile, new hire Kayla Pospisil (Margot Robbie) is determined to get an on-air role at the network, unaware that women face a different standard for promotion. When Fox executives authorize an investigation from an outside firm, the three women realize that their experiences aren't unusual.

Is it any good?

Decades are often required to assess history, but filmmaker Jay Roach shortens the gap with this alarmingly accurate film about how women began to topple the gender power dynamic in 2016. Bombshell serves to remind viewers that the revolution started in the most inauspicious of locations: the conservative hallways of Fox News. Be prepared for a shift in perspective -- it really doesn't matter if you do or don't like Gretchen Carlson or Megyn Kelly's politics; you'll connect with the difficult position they're in and respect them for the decisions they ultimately made. Carlson may have been a bit naive when she filed her lawsuit, but the film helps you understand that her bold decision to fight back against the sexist treatment she received was both heroic and sacrificial (some cynics may think that getting a hefty payout is worth a "muzzle," but anyone in the entertainment or critical journalism space will tell you that staying quiet feels like an exercise in having your hairs pulled out, one by one).

Theron is such a dead ringer for Kelly -- voice, walk, mannerisms -- that it's almost unnerving. The similarity helps you get lost in the authenticity of the story, especially when it's meticulously intercut with real footage and real stories of what actually went down. Some people may think it's too soon to make a movie about these events, and perhaps that's right, since even the film acknowledges that we still don't know how it will all play out. But the creation of a living document to show our sons and daughters real examples of sexism, degradation, and harassment in the workplace -- from bold assault to microaggressions -- is invaluable.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about sexual harassment and misconduct. What should you do if you're treated inappropriately? What do you think would have happened if Kayla had reported her private meeting with Roger Ailes? Was Megyn Kelly obligated to publicly share what happened to her?

  • Beyond sexual harassment, the film also demonstrates sexist and demeaning behavior, including microaggressions that create a hostile work environment for women. Women have been trying to figure out how to combat this culturally ingrained behavior for centuries. What do you think can be done now? 

  • One of the film's themes is that women are stronger together. Why do you think women often feel competition with one another? How can that be overcome?

  • Which characters do you consider role models? Why? How do they demonstrate courage?

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