The Wild Story Makes for a Wild Movie
It became inevitable that the wildest news story of 2021 would eventually be adapted to the big screen. The story was crazy enough, filled with many unexpected turns that naturally provided the layout for a movie. A film centered around the stock market and businessmen could have easily been bogged down by focusing on the numbers and financial talk, but Dumb Money was able to add entertainment and interest.
Dumb Money tells the true story of Keith Gill, an everyday man with a sizable YouTube channel, where he discusses various stocks of interest to him. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, Gill takes an interest in GameStop’s stock as the company struggles to stay afloat during difficult times. After expressing his thoughts during a livestream and pouring his life savings into the stock, people on a subreddit page quickly begin buying stock, leading to what became known as the “GameStop Short Squeeze.” As Gill begins making millions, stock market company CEOs begin losing billions. As ordinary people start getting wealthy, the billionaires fight back to secure their fortunes.
The Year’s Best Cast
Off the bat, the most notable aspect of the movie is its star-studded cast, including Paul Dano, Shailene Woodley, Seth Rogen, Pete Davidson, Sebastian Stan, America Ferrera, Vincent D’Onofrio, Nick Offerman, Anthony Ramos, and many others. Having a large cast of recognizable names helped to make every role feel important and integral to the story.
Paul Dano heads the movie as Keith Gill, providing the heartbeat for the film. Dano presents the character as a regular, everyday man, the sort of person one walks by without taking notice. His performance is able to make Gill sympathetic and relatable to audiences, especially when the outrageous elements of the movie start. When dealing with lively and extreme characters, such as Gabe Plotkin (Seth Rogen), Kenneth C. Griffin (Nick Offerman), and Steve Cohen (Vincent D’Onofrio), Gill is able to ground the story in a sense of realism.
The stand-outs of the movie come from the three main CEO characters, Plotkin, Griffin, and Cohen. Each of the eccentric characters provides the entertainment for the film by demonstrating the extreme nature of their lifestyles. For example, D’Onofrio’s character, Steve Cohen, is shown to randomly have a large pig as a pet, while Offerman’s character, Kenneth Griffin, spends his COVID lockdown at a resort. Seeing the amount of wealth they have as well as the ways in which they spend it counters the poverty-stricken lives of the ordinary characters. It helps demonstrate how the stock market has been manipulated to benefit the few and how big of a win this average working person got by flipping the system in the opposite direction.
Editing for Style
For average audiences, the movie would most likely be compared to The Wolf of Wall Street due to the nature of the story. Being centered around stocks, Wall Street, and an insane true story, it’s natural to compare the two movies. However, the movies also have thematic and style similarities.
Craig Gillespie, the director of the film, brought a tone and style to the film that helped match the energy of the cast and story. Similar to his other films, such as 2021’s Cruella, Gillespie’s style for the movie helped make it unique with its fast-paced editing. Throughout the movie, tweets, news footage, memes, and Reddit posts are blended together with the story to provide an almost documentary feel. It incorporates the internet, social media, and of course, memes, into the movie, something that hasn’t really been explored in other studio films.
Quippy and Vulgar Dialogue
Also similar to The Wolf of Wall Street, the dialogue in Dumb Money is very quick, quippy, and vulgar. It adds to the entertainment factor as characters talk fast and banter with one another, always having an intelligent or crass comeback. In other films, the extreme vulgarness of the actions and words of the characters could quickly become irritating and futile, but judging from the true story, Dumb Money is able to justify the crude nature of the story. Through the Reddit pages and memes, those who tipped the system on the CEOs were a wild group, so it became natural that the characters would reflect that similar sentiment.
At the same time, the wild behavior and crudeness reflect the immature nature of those involved in the situation, making the story even wilder. By staying true to the real-life story as much as possible, the group of Reddit users were not depicted as intellectuals who planned out the attack, but rather crazed online individuals who made inappropriate memes.
Dumb Money lives up to the trailers and is one of the year’s best films. It’s fast-paced and filled with energy but never leans on these elements as a crutch. Its stuffed cast of recognizable stars give excellent performances, even those in limited roles. The direction is able to match the actor’s performances, while also finding innovative ways to tell its story, making for a unique experience.
Dumb Money is currently playing in theaters.
Dumb Money (2023) Official Sony Trailer