Dumb Money Review

Tuesday 3 October 2023

Plot: Dumb Money is the ultimate David vs. Goliath tale, based on the insane true story of everyday people who flipped the script on Wall Street and got rich by turning GameStop (the video game store) into the world's hottest company.

 Film: Dumb Money

Director: Craig Gillespie

Writers: Lauren Schuker Blum, Rebecca Angelo, Ben Mezrich

Starring: Paul Dano, Pete Davidson, Vincent D'Onofrio, Shailene Woodley

The golden rule when it comes to crafting films about the economy is that they must be as entertaining as they are informative. No one wants to watch a dry, mundane portrayal of spreadsheet formulas and taxable municipal bonds. "Dumb Money" might not go to the same lengths as "The Big Short" in terms of cinematic extravagance—there are no Margot Robbie explanations in a bubble bath here—but it does operate within the same realm of engaging storytelling. Just like its predecessor, "Dumb Money" assembles a motley crew of characters, including a single mom, a college student, a hedge-fund manager, and a stock-market enthusiast, all on the front lines of a late-stage capitalism anomaly. The film also shares "The Big Short's" knack for demystifying complex financial concepts, this time focusing on the phenomenon of 'short squeezes.'

The movie's source material, Ben Mezrich's non-fiction book "The Antisocial Network," provides a foundation that's inherently farcical, rife with stranger-than-fiction details. The central character, Keith Gill, portrayed with playful charm by Paul Dano, is a stock market prodigy who goes by online monikers like 'Roaring Kitty' and 'Deep F***ing Value,' all while nonchalantly dunking chicken tenders into champagne. He amasses a following from a Reddit community that communicates primarily in memes. The narrative unfolds against the backdrop of the GameStop saga, where regular-Joe investors took on hedge-fund billionaires, leading to a 'short squeeze' that transformed once-slumbering stocks into wild, roller-coaster rides.

If the premise seems a touch too technical or dull, fear not. Director Craig Gillespie, known for his knack for satirical storytelling ("I, Tonya" and "Pam & Tommy"), grasps the absurdity of the tale and presents it stylishly, breezily, and boldly. Despite the comedic veneer, the real-world implications remain in focus, with characters introduced alongside their estimated net worth, ranging from billions to deep in debt, sharply highlighting the David-and-Goliath stakes at play.

While the film doesn't delve into deep philosophical waters, its overarching message—that Wall Street's elite need a reality check—feels familiar but is conveyed with finesse and humor. The well-rounded, capable cast, featuring Seth Rogen, Nick Offerman, and Sebastian Stan, known for their roles in "Pam & Tommy," have a blast with their against-type characters. By the film's conclusion, you might even find yourself considering investing in GameStop.

With its quick-witted humor and an undercurrent of righteous indignation, "Dumb Money" adeptly carries the torch passed down by "The Big Short" for cinematic critiques of economic systems.

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