3 individual groups of investment sharks project a collapse of the early 2000’s US housing market and bet against the banks for stakes in the billions.
Writers: Charles Randolph (screenplay), Adam McKay
Director: Adam McKay
Stars: Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling
Run time/Rating: 130 Minutes/ R
Popcorn Score: Large Popcorn with Butter
It only took about 10 minutes into The Big Short before I wondered if this movie was too smart for me. Thankfully, just then a Margot Robbie bubble bath scene happened and she helped me understand what the hell Ryan Gosling’s voice over was talking about for the first 10 confusing, yet still entertaining minutes. From there on, all of the confusion was gone and only entertainment resumed.
In The Big Short we follow some of the elite money masters of this country. 3 different groups who are more or less completely unconnected, other than the fact they have all come across the same piece of information which will make them all very very rich.
The story which follows these 3 different groups of hedge fund managers and traders who made fortunes because they foresaw that America’s housing marked would soon collapse due to faulty subprime mortgages. (Don’t worry, Margot simplifies it for you) The film, which is adapted from Michael Lewis’ book of the same name is directed by comedy directory Adam McKay (Anchorman, Step Brothers) and keeps the dry subject of mortgage collapse so entertaining with snappy dialogue, 4th wall breaking cutaways and a great cast of actors. It all makes a very entertaining and engaging “Dramedy”
The first of the three interweaving storylines of future billionaires focuses on hedge fund manager Dr. Michael Burry, a medical doctor who left that game due to his severe social anxiety and inability to communicate well with patients. He is much more comfortable sitting behind a stack of monitors and predicting financial markets, a skill which leads him to find the faults of the mortgage bonds in America. He decides to short – or bet against – the housing market of the US by convincing Wall Street banks to sell him an insurance policy where – if/when – the market fails he will make money, and in the meantime he pays premiums to them. He buys 1.3 billion of these so the payoff is potentially big, but so are those premiums. He better be right or he is losing a lot on a clock!
The other men of the story may not know Dr. Burry personally, it is presented as if they do not, but they all catch wind of this insurance short strategy and after their own analysis buy in on their own. The first is Ryan Gossling’s suave, slick, classic banking movie character Jared Vennett. He is what we were expecting more of in a Wall Street shark movie. He brings in a small team of investors headed by Steve Carrell’s Mark Baum, a man who hates the injustices of huge bankers and is excited for the opportunity to make money off of their fraud/stupidity. Steve Carrell is awesome in this movie in another role showing off his legitimate chops.
The final group of men who ride this wave are young investment duo Jamie Shipley and Charlie Geller (Finn Wittrock and John Magaro). They enlist the help of Brad Pitt’s Ben Rickert who is a retired Wall Street mogul who left the rat race of NYC to essentially live off the grid. He is aroused by an amazing offer and comes back to help his young former neighbors strike it big.
Hollywood has a history of making movies about banking and mortgages and investments into something more interesting than they actually are in real life and I would suggest that few others with the same effort have done as well as The Big Short. Guided by an entertaining non-fiction book, a comedic director and a cast of characters as great at their craft as the characters they play are at their own, The Big Short is a Popcorn Movie Review favorite of 2015!
Large Popcorn with Butter.