DUMB MONEY

★★★

GAMESTOP SHORT SQUEEZE GOES TO THE BIG SCREEN

THEATRICAL REVIEW
By Chris Dos Santos
24th September 2023

The stock market - a place I know little about; even with the number of films I've seen on it, I will never fully understand it. 'The Big Short' and 'The Wolf of Wall Street' are the two modern ones that come to mind when talking about this genre. 'Dumb Money' attempts to echo the comedy from those films with the added layer of appealing to the Tik-Tok generation.

Keith Gill (Paul Dano, 'The Fabelmans', 'The Batman') or Reddit user "DeepFucking Value" or YouTube user "Roaring Kitty" is the face of a group of people who band together when noticing that two hedge funds were betting that GameStop shares would fall. He rallies the internet together to invest in GameStop to create a squeeze and hopefully win big. His channel inspires people all across the United States all struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Jennifer (America Ferrera, 'Barbie', 'X/Y') is a nurse who invests after watching his videos, as does Marcus (Anthony Ramos, 'In the Heights', 'Transformers: Rise of the Beasts'), an employee at GameStop. This also draws the attention of a lot of TikTok users in colleges who also begin to invest, thanks to meme culture. As GameStop's stock rises, this begins to scare a lot of investors - including Gabe Plotkin (Seth Rogen, 'The Super Mario Bros. Movie', 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem'), the founder of Melvin Capital Management, Vald Tenev (Sebastian Stan, 'The 355', 'Fresh') and Baiju Bhatt (Rushi Kota, TV's 'Grey's Anatomy'), the co-founders of Robinhood, an app many are using to invest, as well as hedge fund managers Kenneth C. Griffin (Nick Offerman, 'Sing 2', 'Hearts Beat Loud') and Steven A. Cohen (Vincent D'Onofrio, 'The Eyes of Tammy Faye', 'Death Wish').

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The film's real success is its all-star cast - the movie has so many moving parts and has to cover a lot of ground to make this story work in a theatrical narrative. Because the GameStop short squeeze isn't a perfect story to put into a film format, we have a very long act one. It's constantly setting up characters around the country who are investing; Keith Gill may be the jumping-off point, but his story doesn't have the meat to carry a film.

The film also doesn't shy away for the meme culture, the opening scene plays 'WAP', as well as having many montages using Tik-Toks. This makes the film much more enjoyable and a time capsule of both the pandemic and modern internet trends. Still, the film never fully comes together and leaves a lot about the stock market for the audience to work out. The cast and the comedy are the shining force here, and unfortunately the narrative never really catches up with those elements.

The pandemic is still so fresh in many people's minds that a film that directly depicts it feels too soon. The GameStop short squeeze only happened in January 2021, and while it was a strange event that captured meme culture and was wildly talked about doesn't mean it was the perfect true story to adapt. 'Dumb Money' is still a fun little throwback to a time not so long ago that captures how powerful the internet can be.

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