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  • Writer's pictureMatt Conway

Dumb Money: Review

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before — a so-wild-its-true story is adapted for the big screen. This time, the 2021 GameStop financial crisis steps into the cinematic spotlight in “Dumb Money.”

Credit to director Craig Gillespie for capturing the pop culture firestorm that this unique slice of history generated. This moment in time — a chapter amidst the tumultuous coronavirus pandemic — is the ultimate expression of class warfare, with an active group of Reddit users uniting to change the tides against billionaire CEOs betting against the stock market prospects for GameStop.

Gillespie and his screenwriting team wisely opt for an ensemble approach to capture this singular fallout. Incorporating different characters, such as YouTuber Keith Gill, the man who inspired the stock craze, several down-on-their-luck individuals foraging for a financial miracle and the callous CEOs who want to crush their prospects, is a commendable medium for exploring the different perspectives intertwined in the hysteria. Gillespie’s direction imbues energy into these varied arcs, injecting kinetic edits and zeitgeist media artifacts to capture this precise moment in time.

An ensemble approach also opens the door for the charismatic cast to steal the show. Star Paul Dano’s awkward, oft-kilter delivery embodies Gill’s distinct appeal as an unlikely social media icon. Pete Davidson, America Ferrera and Anthony Ramos display their vibrant personalities as affable everymen. Even Seth Rogen and Sebastian Stan, who play against type as self-absorbed business moguls, elevate somewhat rudimentary roles through their vibrant screen presence.

“Dumb Money” is often amusing and quick on its feet, but the narrative does miss the mark in capturing the full scope of its subjects. Like many biopics, the film descends into a Wikipedia entry structure — focusing on hitting factual bullet points without capturing the nuance and insular textures that defined him.

It feels like the creative team bit off more than they could chew with the enormous ensemble, rarely securing these characters enough screen time to grow into fully realized people (maybe this would have worked better as a mini-series). I also don’t think the movie offers anything insightful on its age-old depictions of class warfare and broken economic standards due to its rushed delivery.

For all its warts, “Dumb Money” still captures its bizarre chapter in history with passion and dynamism. The film resonates as a fun romp that unfortunately stumbles in grasping toward grander heights.


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