“To the moon!” - unknown
I’ve always wondered if creative content creators hate it when their work is compared to other similar endeavors. Like any gangster movie standing in comparison to The Godfather or Goodfellas. Any adventure movie compared to Indiana Jones. Any horror movie compared any number of 70s or 80s classics. I know I compare movies to one another all the time, I guess it’s a kind of measuring tool I use to judge if I like something. “Was the movie good? Yeah it reminded me of…” I do it with music as well. I think we all do it. It would seem it’s a natural side effect of consuming more and more content. I suppose as long as your work is compared to something beloved it should be taken as a compliment.
I bring this up because as the credits rolled for Dumb Money and I was asked what I thought about the movie I immediately turned to what it reminded of, what I could compare it to. In this case it’s a combination of The Social Network and The Big Short. Like those (excellent) films they are based on true stories. And like those modern classics, especially The Big Short, Dumb Money takes a true, highly unpalatable story and makes it something easier to swallow than the original bitter pill that it would otherwise be. I say it’s off-putting because of the true facts it focuses on, however dramatized these details may be.
I thoroughly enjoy The Big Short, directed by Adam McKay. But I’d be lying if I said that inevitably by credits end I am fully and perhaps irrationally pissed off. I think a major aspect of my anger is the personal effects these criminals had on myself and my family, particularly the loss of my childhood home. The Big Short takes the housing crisis and puts a comedic but highly detailed spin on something that if anything puts on full display the complete lack of a rock bottom for the Wall Street elites. Dumb Money in a way carries the torch a bit further down the track. I would say it runs the baton passed the finish line but that would imply this will be the last tale of mass corruption and greed. As long as people have a pulse, these stories will never stop. Unfortunately.
When a significant event takes place it’s not uncommon for a movie to be made about that very occurrence. The time between reality and its dramatized adaptation can vary from just a few years to decades or even hundreds of thousands of years later. I realize this is all kind of a “duh!” perspective but I mention it because, let’s call it the turnaround, from the actual events of the Gamestop stock incident to the release of Dumb Money is one of the quickest turnarounds I’ve ever seen. Originating in 2020 amidst the pandemic and carrying into 2021, the Gamestop stock squeeze happened. Here we are in 2023 talking about the movie made about the whole thing. Maybe it was fast tracked because society’s disdain for the wealthy has never been greater. Hashtags like #eattherich have regularly trended throughout the internet. Nothing like a movie release to reflect the times we’re currently living in.
Dumb Money is about the little guy taking the rules set by the wealthy and turning them on their heads. A young man by the name of Keith Gill saw something all of the stock expert elites missed and capitalized on it. While he ended up making a life changing amount of money he also changed the world of Wall Street forever. He saw the underpriced stock of Gamestop as a massive oversight just waiting to explode for anyone willing to invest. Before long it became a David v Goliath battle of the little guy, the everyday common man against the wealthy, criminal elite who see the rest of us as nothing more than stepping stones to their next billion dollar venture. “Hold the line!” became a popular exclamation of rebellion as doubt and insecurity found its way into the minds of anyone invested in the stock. Roaring Kitty, as Keith Gill was known on the internet, held and it became him and the internet against the millionaires and billionaires.
I mentioned the details being bitter and that’s because as was the result of the housing market crash, the very criminals responsible for the illegal activity that took place to inhibit the purchase of Gamestop stock, they got away with it. At one point, and remember this really happened, a congressional hearing took place and the heads of several major hedge funds were explicitly asked if they were involved in the interference of purchasing Gamestop stock. And they responded with a resounding, “no.” It states at the end of the movie that text messages exposed their congressional hearing responses as outright lies. And they were under oath. No charges across the board. Like I said, it’s infuriating. Dumb Money takes on the difficult task of making it as entertaining as something so frustrating can possibly be.
Dumb Money is funny. Dumb Money is a story of real events just months old. It’s factual while managing to be humorous and informative. While it can’t deliver the happy ending we’re all hoping for as we watch it all play out, it makes this bitter pill just a bit easier to consume. And believe me when I say the metallic, unnatural taste it leaves behind will linger.
Rated R For: pervasive language, sexual material and drug use
Runtime: 104 minutes
After Credits Scene: No
Genre: Biography, Drama, Comedy
Starring: Paul Dano, Pete Davidson, Seth Rogen, America Ferrera
Directed By: Craig Gillespie
Out of 10
Story: 8.5/ Acting: 8.5/ Directing: 8/ Visuals: 7
Buy to Own: Yes
Check out the trailer below: