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Dumb Money Review

by Daniel Reynolds
3.5 out of 5.0 stars

As capitalism cannibalizes our world at an ever faster rate, the turnaround on films dramatizing that destruction has become faster too. Now comes Dumb Money, directed by Craig Gillespie, arriving just two years after the events that inspired it. Much like The Big Short, there’s anger in this film and reasons to see it—not least of which: its explanation of why we should be mad.

The central figure of Dumb Money is Keith (Paul Dano), a nobody with a budding online audience, whose recommendation to buy stock in GameStop, the failing video game retailer, ignites a hoi polloi holy mission. Due to its online milieu, there are numerous POVs in this film, from big-timers played by Nick Offerman and Seth Rogen to other nobodies played by America Ferrera and Anthony Ramos. In a decent twist, though, the film isn’t as miserable as it could have been, even if its main thrust—a sincere desire to level the financial playing field—isn’t really enough anymore. Similarly, we could take Gillespie to task for eliding Reddit’s uglier dimensions; in all, when Dave Portnoy and Elon Musk can appear as voices of the underclass, something has gone a touch wrong.

The source material for Dumb Money is Ben Mezrich’s book “The Antisocial Network,” a fitting nod to the ur-text of our age, The Social Network, which holds up as the high-water mark for this type of film. Like his characters, Gillespie does not reach those heights, but he does ape some qualities well enough. Maybe for the next financial disaster, the resulting film will be better still.

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