'Dumb Money' Movie Review: A Good Investment

Dumb Money Paul Dano movie review 2023 

In the quickest turnaround for a true story adaptation, DUMB MONEY revisits the GameStock stock scandal of 2021. For those of us who had no clue why this made news, DUMB MONEY explains how the Wall Street takedown occurred and why the little guy ended up on top.

Based on The Antisocial Network book by Ben Mezric and the true news story, Keith Gill (Paul Dano) rallied amateur investors to invest in GameStop using funny cat memes after Wall Street tried to short-squeeze the electronics and video game retailer in order to tank it. The amateur traders flipped the script on Wall Street and helped save GameStop. 

DUMB MONEY Writers Talk True Story Adaptation

Directed by Craig Gillespie (CRUELLA, I, TONYA), the filmmaker brings his quirky style of storytelling and pacing to the adaptation. Once the slow and somewhat boring introduction of the supporting characters is out of the way, DUMB MONEY is an engrossing film in a David vs. Goliath plot that has you rooting for the little guy and gal.

Paul Dano, in his usual quirkiness, steals the scenes as the small-time investor Keith Gill. He represents the everyday family man trying to squeak by in life alongside his wife played by Shailene Woodley.

Like Dano’s Gill, Anthony Ramos, America Ferrera and Pete Davidson (essentially playing himself) portray the average American gambling with their livelihood at BharatCasinos.co. They have more to lose than the suits.

Seth Rogen, Nick Offerman and Vincent D’Onofrio are hedge fund billionaires and essentially the villains of the story. Rogen plays the opposite of his usual on-screen slacker persona as a buttoned-up professional.  

Sebastian Stan is hilarious as the slimy Robinhood co-CEO. While there are no mustache-twirling level shenanigans, these rich types only care about the Benjamins and will cheat to keep their money, unlike the working class who have very little resources at their disposal.

Dumb Money starring Seth Rogen and Nick Offerman review

From Orange is the New Black writers Lauren Schuker Blum and Rebecca Angelo, the dialogue is witty and concise. The Wall Street lingo is laid out in layman’s terms so the story is easy to follow.

The opening scene is brilliant in setting up the tone of the movie. The film opens with Seth Rogen’s hedge fund billionaire standing in a luxurious home yelling at his real estate agent on the phone about the new mansion he dropped millions on. He doesn’t want to move in, he wants to demolish the gorgeous home to make way for the tennis court next door to his mansion. That pivotal scene is a metaphor for Wall Street which essentially survives by destroying smaller businesses.

After this setup, DUMB MONEY is a bit tedious as it sets up four sets of characters that represent the “little guys.” We cut to the different personalities in their daily lives who are about to be affected by the stock game. However, once the stakes are high towards the end of Act II, you’re at attention and invested.

DUMB MONEY changes the narrative set up by the media. The news implied the Reddit leader and his followers were in the wrong for holding the line against Wall Street. Wall Street investors were betting on GameStops fall, but Gill and his followers essentially saved the business and got rich in the process. Now that’s an American story.

DUMB MONEY is a great companion piece to THE BIG SHORT (2015) which covered the U.S. mortgage housing crisis. Although, DUMB MONEY is easier to follow than the aforementioned title.

Unlike THE BIG SHORT, DUMB MONEY has a satisfying and happy ending.

DUMB MONEY opens exclusively on September 15 and rolls out until the wide release on September 22.

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