Genre: Comedy
Director: Craig Gillespie
Cast: Paul Dano, Pete Davidson, Vincent D’Onofrio, America Ferrera, Nick Offerman, Anthony Ramos, Sebastian Stan, Shailene Woodley, Seth Rogen
Runtime: 1 hr 45 mins
Rating: M18 (Coarse Language and Some Mature Content)
Released By: Wait Disney
Official Website: 

Opening Day: 12 October 2023

Synopsis: 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 (yes, the mall videogame store) into the world’s hottest company. In the middle of everything is regular guy Keith Gill (Paul Dano), who starts it all by sinking his life savings into the stock and posting about it. When his social posts start blowing up, so does his life and the lives of everyone following him. As a stock tip becomes a movement, everyone gets rich – until the billionaires fight back, and both sides find their worlds turned upside down.

Movie Review:

In case you’re wondering, ‘dumb money’ was a derogatory phrase coined by Wall Street brokers to describe non-institutional or non-affiliated investors; and if you’re hearing that for the first time, chances are that you probably had not heard of the GameStop stock craze back in 2021 when most of the world was still obsessed over the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As context, GameStop is a somewhat fusty chain of shopping mall retail stores that sell new and used gaming hardware and software. Whether out of blind faith or just counting on beginner’s luck, Keith Gill (Paul Dano), a middle-class young adult who works as a stock analyst by day and online financial pundit by night, decides to invest his life savings of $53,000 in the company, just because “I like the stock!”

Under the monikers ‘RoaringKitty’ and ‘DeepFuckingValue’ on Youtube and Reddit respectively, Keith urges his followers to also invest in GameStop – among them are Jenny (America Ferrara), a struggling single mother and nurse in Pittsburgh; Harmony and Harmony (Talia Ryder) and Riri (Myha’la Herrold), two college students in Austin, Texas; and Marcos (Anthony Ramos), a GameStop employee in Detroit who has to endure the sneering demands of his boss (Dane DeHaan).

As the stock rises, it also attracts the attention of hedge fund managers who see an opportunity to short sell the company – namely, Gabe Plotkin of Melvin Capital Management (Seth Rogen); Steve Cohen (Vincent D’Onofrio)of Point72 Ventures, and the owner of the New York Mets; and Ken Griffin (Nick Offerman) of Citadel LLC. Their predatory behaviour in turn attracts more disgruntled retail investors frustrated with Wall Street types like them, eventually building a mini-revolution who band together under the sub-reddit ‘r/WallStreetBets’.

It is a modern-day David-versus-Goliath tale all right, and in adapting Ben Mezrich’s book ‘The Antisocial Network’, director Craig Gillespie and screenwriters Lauren Schuker Blum and Rebecca Angelo retain the former’s farcical tone and treatment. That said, Gillespie himself is no stranger to telling real-life tales with satirical verve and wit, and here applies the same to keep the proceedings sharp, funny and bold.

Though the similarities are undeniable, Gillespie isn’t just out to cash in on Adam McKay’s 2015 box-office hit ‘The Big Short’; rather, he brings his own passion for the underdog to deliver what is ultimately a more sincere tale of comeuppance. There is also a lot more authenticity here than in McKay’s movie, what with Gillespie weaving in footage from business news channels, including a clip from Stephen Colbert that nicely captures the forces at play here.

And even without Margot Robbie explaining mortgage-backed bonds in a bubble bath, ‘Dumb Money’ makes sure that the common viewer understands the jargony financial terms– like call options, the Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation and stonks (slang for stocks) – with layman ease. That’s not to say that they intentionally dumb down the material; instead, they lay out what happened, why it happened, and why it mattered in a most audience-friendly way.

To its credit, ‘Dumb Money’ never does hide whose side it is on, and is hardly shy about arousing outrage against the bad guys and admiration for the underdogs. It does come up short though (pun intended) in treating the characters rather superficially – not even to explain why Keith believed so much in GameStop to invest in it in the first place – and in that respect, fails to get any of them to truly connect. But in portraying a phenomenon and tapping our righteous anger, ‘Dumb Money’ hits the proverbial nail on its head.

Movie Rating:

(Often sharp, funny and bold, this irreverent take on the GameStop stock craze of 2021 is a crowd-pleasing modern-day David versus Goliath tale)

Review by Gabriel Chong


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