By Keith Walther | Rose Law Group Reporter
With decent movies in short supply right now, here’s one that’s worth a look. “Dumb Money” is based on the true story of everyday Americans taking on the establishment of Wall Street. This is a cool underdog story that almost makes the stock market fascinating and is deserving of attention.
During the height of the pandemic in 2020, leading into 2021 and the economic reawakening, much of the population felt the pinch of too many bills and not enough income. Many of these people turned to retail stock trading while quarantined at home to maintain financial stability. Keith Gill (Paul Dano) took this to the next level, posting videos of his stock preferences and current portfolio.
When Keith, aka “Roaring Kitty,” decides to post a video of him dumping his life’s savings into the GameStop stock, explaining that it was completely undervalued due to being shorted, it becomes a viral sensation, propelling retail traders to purchase large quantities of the videogame store’s stocks. This in turn leads to the stock price skyrocketing, making investors of modest means wealthy virtually overnight, while hedge fund billionaires suffered alarming losses. These massive Wall Street players led by Steve Cohen (Vincent D’Onofrio), Ken Griffin (Nick Offerman), and Gabe Plotkin (Seth Rogen), won’t take these losses lying down. They fight back to squash this stock rebellion by any means necessary without much thought to ethical or legal considerations.
This is a David and Goliath type of story that looks to expose the rigged underbelly of Wall Street. Director Craig Gillespie does an excellent job of crafting this intriguing yet mundane true story into a compelling and entertaining watch. He does this without corrupting the integrity of the facts by layering it in a comical vibe that doesn’t elicit laugh out loud type of moments but provides a tone of amusement. This style is similar to his most acclaimed film “I, Tonya.”
Gillespie’s dedication to accuracy in the retelling of this recognizable story is commendable, but the details of why the rising stock price could be problematic for these wealthy players is not explained very well and could lose the average viewer unfamiliar with the inner workings of the stock market. He also initiates subplots with side characters that get abandoned along the way, making those scenes and characters obsolete and cuttable. However, he does an excellent job of capturing the pandemic scene, especially in the Northeast with the mask-up policy, video conferencing, and telecommuting that was indicative of that time.
Paul Dano leads this stellar cast, and there’s no one better suited for this role. He spent countless hours studying Keith Gill’s YouTube videos, learning his mannerisms and speech to ensure he delivered the most authentic performance he possibly could, and he succeeded. Dano is an actor committed to his craft, constantly showing an ability to play all different types of roles from “There Will Be Blood” to “Love & Mercy,” or from “The Batman” to “The Fabelmans.” He consistently flies under the radar, but smart directors who employ Dano as a significant member of their cast will reap the benefits.
The rest of cast was also very well chosen, everyone capturing the look and speech of their real-life counterparts, increasing the authenticity of the production. Pete Davidson adds the comic relief as the main character’s brother, while Vincent D’Onofrio, Nick Offerman, Seth Rogen, and Sebastian Stan all supply the antagonistic face of the establishment with an amusingly sarcastic approach that makes the audience smile in silent understanding. America Ferrera and Anthony Ramos provide notable performances in secondary storylines that unfortunately die on the vine.
If you’re looking for a little guy taking on the man type of story, this is the movie for you. It may not be as compellingly entertaining as “Air,” but it has the acting, relatability, and accuracy to hold its own. “Dumb Money” is ultimately a smart bet for your time and wallet.
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