Dumb Money Movie Review
Dumb Money is about stock market addiction even if it doesn’t think it’s about stock market addiction. An entertaining and surprisingly fun little movie about a modern day David vs. Goliath, this Paul Dano/Seth Rogen/Pete Davidson-starring “business thriller” is worth a watch, even if you could care less about share prices.
Based on a true story about the stock manipulation of GameStop shares that upended parts of Wall Street and introduced the world to the idea of “meme stocks,” Dumb Money is a straightforward but effective dramatization of what went down–with a comedic twist. The movie feels a bit like an Adam McKay movie–i.e. The Big Short–only not as crappy as an Adam McKay movie, with its desire to entertain while tackling a topic that would cause most people to convulse and curl up into the fetal position out of boredom.
Director Craig Gillepsie (Lars and the Real Girl, I, Tonya, Cruella) nails the right balance of humor and dread, the dread coming from the growing realization that most of the ordinary people depicted in this movie are lemmings who have no comprehension of how to maintain a balanced portfolio. Paul Dano is great as Ketih Gill, a nobody investor who posts quirky but intelligent videos on Reddit and convinces hundreds (thousands?) of people to go all-in on near-bankrupt GameStop. America Ferrera is solid too, but she plays a Very Dumb Person who defies logic and continues to go all in while seemingly blind to the risks at play.
The movie is funny, with Seth Rogen portraying a rich-but-seemingly dumb hedge fund manager and Pete Davidson serving as Keith’s idiotic loser of a brother (admittedly Davidson’s schtick wears thin), but it works best as a depiction of the precariousness of the stock market, with two forces competing against one another over a company not worthy of the fight. Dumb Money criticizes short selling–essentially betting on failure–and its questionable value to society, while in some ways glamorizing the little guy fighting back. But you can feel the tension in the audience as Keith’s followers–college students, single moms, and other random people looking for a quick buck–dive deeper and deeper in, their finances hinging upon the solidarity of others in a market that is rarely about solidarity. It’s painful and scary to watch, and kudos to Gillepsie for eliciting such emotion.
Dumb Money may not take your time investment to the next level, but it’s not dumb and it’s worth the money.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.