Courtesy Columbia Pictures

Movie Review: Dumb Money

07:00 October 05, 2023
By: Fritz Esker

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Wall Street went into a frenzy after ordinary people invested in GameStop in large numbers, fueled by YouTube videos and a Reddit group. The fictionalized version of those events, Dumb Money, is mostly entertaining and would make an intriguing double-bill with The Big Short.

Paul Dano plays Keith Gill, a middle-class trader who believes hedge funds are unfairly shorting the video game store GameStop (to short means to bet heavily that something will fail). Keith makes a video explaining why he is investing in the company, and slowly but surely online followers start joining him. Eventually, the stock rises and wealthy hedge fund owners (played by Seth Rogen, Nick Offerman, and Vincent D'Onofrio) start to squirm a bit.

Interspersed with these scenes are scenes featuring working class investors, including a nurse in debt (America Ferrara), a GameStop clerk (Anthony Ramos), and two heavily in debt college students (Talia Ryder and Myha'la Herrold). These characters are all inventions.

Director Craig Gillespie, who helmed 2021's surprisingly excellent Cruella, does a good job of capturing the atmosphere of the first year of COVID. There's a lot of wealthy and upper-middle-class people staying safely at home while their working class servants don masks and keep going out into the world. The script by Lauren Schumer Blum and Rebecca Angelo (from Ben Mezrich's book) does a good job of explaining the stock market terminology to viewers without seeming like an endless series of exposition dumps.

At the heart of it is Dano's performance. If he's not sympathetic, the movie stalls, but Dano makes you care.

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