FILM REVIEW — “Dumb Money” but smart movie
Published 12:02 am Friday, September 29, 2023
Directed by Craig Gillespie
Starring Paul Dano, America Ferrera, Shailene Woodley, Anthony Ramos, Seth Rogan, Pete Davidson, Vincent D’Onofrio and Nick Offerman
“Dumb Money” is a populist crowd-pleaser of a movie.
That’s no small task as the story takes place in worlds of Wall Street kingpins and lowly Reddit user forums — not exactly a common setting for a feel good, David versus Goliath story.
“Dumb Money” is based on the real-life events that took place all the way back in 2020. In the middle of the pandemic, one guy (Paul Dano) realized that Wall Steet hedge funds were shorting GameStop, the electronic games retailer that was once a ubiquitous presence in the malls of America.
The hedge fund managers were betting that the company was about to collapse. Our lone hero went online and started telling the world that the stock was undervalued. He convinced enough people to invest in the company that the stock price rose, causing the hedge funds to post multibillion dollar losses.
Down goes Goliath!
Well, perhaps it’s not a complete victory, but there’s a palpable sense of schadenfreude watching these wealthy fat cats taking a massive hit to their wallets. It helps that the filmmakers don’t focus completely on the money brokers, also introducing us to a handful of individual investors who sign up for the fight.
America Ferrera, in particular, is quite endearing playing a nurse who invests too much of her personal savings in the hope that it might eventually lead to a better life.
But the star of the show is Dano, playing our hero, known online as Roaring Kitty.
That’s a perfect moniker for this character, as he talks a big game online, but is somewhat soft-spoken and unsure if what he is doing is right, or if he is leading his followers down the path to bankruptcy and ruin.
It’s easy to cheer for such an average, but good-hearted David in his fight against all of the Wall Street Goliaths.
The film features a few other sub stories, such as the sweet relationship between Roaring Kitty and his mess-up of a brother (Pete Davidson), as well as two college kids trying to pay off their student loans and a GameStop employee (Anthony Ramos) who just wants to make enough money so that he can quit his lousy job.
These subplots don’t always resonate, but they do tend to make the story more relatable that it would have been if it had truly gone into the complicated mechanics of a Wall Street short sell scheme.
And the filmmakers wisely downplayed some of the Reddit online behavior — which was apparently rife with vile and misogynistic content.
These forum comments and memes are flashed on screen just long enough to give us a fleeting sense of the anger brewing among the users, but never long enough to make us question our allegiance in this fight.
Which probably means that “Dumb Money” isn’t a completely fair depiction of what happened, at least by journalistic standards. But this is supposed to be a crowd-pleasing dramedy, not an even-handed evening news report.
By that standard, the film works wonderfully, giving us just enough real-world facts to make us feel good about watching the little guys finally get a win.
Turning this complicated story into a simple crowd-pleaser of a movie is anything but dumb.
Movie reviews by Sean McBride, “The Movie Guy,” are published each week by Orange Newsmedia and seen weekly on KFDM and Fox4. Sean welcomes your comments via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.