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Film Review: DUMB MONEY (2023): Craig Gillespie’s Account of the GameStop Stock Scandal is Passable Entertainment

Paul Dano Dumb Money

Dumb Money Review

Dumb Money (2023) Film Review, a movie directed by Craig Gillespie, written by Lauren Schuker Blum, Rebecca Angelo and Ben Mezrich and starring Paul Dano, Pete Davidson, Seth Rogen, Vincent D’Onofrio, America Ferrera, Shailene Woodley, Anthony Ramos, Myha’la Herrold, Sebastian Stan, Nick Offerman, Talia Ryder, Kate Burton, Clancy Brown, Rushi Kota, Larry Owens, Dane DeHaan and Olivia Thirlby.

Craig Gillespie directed the new film Dumb Money which, from a cinematic standpoint, could remind people of movies such as the superior Boiler Room. Paul Dano’s character in the new film gave me vibes reminiscent of Christian Slater’s character from Pump Up the Volume. Slater’s character might have grown up to be like Dano’s if he was born in a later, internet-friendly time period and ended up happily married.

However, focusing on the stock market drama that Dumb Money actually is, one can probably see that this is simply a true-to-life account of what happened a few years back when the pandemic hit and people had nothing better to do than to watch and buy GameStop stock. But, out of that simplicity lies a bit of complexity too. Watching that stock’s progress was a whole lot more interesting for some people thanks to the efforts of the internet celebrity that a young man (who had an adoration for cats) named Keith Gill (Dano) ended up becoming.

There are some inspired moments in Dumb Money. From the big time players such as Wall Street high roller Gabe Plotkin (Seth Rogen) and Vlad Tenev (Sebastian Stan) of “Robinhood” fame down to the smaller ones, like a GameStop clerk (Anthony Ramos), and a female essential medical worker named Jenny (America Ferrera, reminding Oscar voters her performance in Barbie was this year, for their consideration), the movie displays the main characters’ net worth on screen. That means some people are thousands in the hole in debt and others have a negative net worth while others have either a huge net worth or a very tiny net worth, etc. These revelations are funny and thought-provoking throughout the movie.

The songs on the soundtrack, though, feature vulgar lyrics (a la Boiler Room) and feel more like imitation than originality, though. This music can feel too over-the-top at times making the sounds feel more like a ploy for attention than actually being necessary to the film’s story line.

Keith claimed he “liked” the GameStop stock which is why he hyped it up so much online. Keith was a family man with a new baby who is married to Caroline (Shailene Woodley of The Spectacular Now). Keith has an unambitious brother who is a DoorDash driver named Kevin (Pete Davidson). Kevin selectively eats and drinks in spurts from the food items he delivers. Keith and Kevin’s parents are well played by Kate Burton and Clancy Brown.

Dumb Money is, if nothing else, interesting to watch. The stock for GameStop rose during the end of the height of the pandemic and people bought in but ultimately, Keith had to testify before Congress to convince them he had no inside knowledge that the stock would rise as high as it did. Watching this movie is almost like spying on real people’s ambitions to get rich in a way that doesn’t involve going to work. In regards to money, “Nobody wants to work for it anymore,” as Giovanni Ribisi’s character said in Boiler Room and that statement still stands true over 20 years later.

Gillespie has done better work than this movie before. Cruella, which was released around the time some of this movie takes place, was a great film. Dumb Money is not. It’s too sloppy. It doesn’t cut back and forth between characters as seamlessly as a movie like say, Magnolia, did. It’s still enjoyable to watch, however, with America Ferrera certainly adding another memorable role to her belt after Barbie. Nobody can steal scenes these days like Ferrera can. She plays the medical professional with a couple of kids who could use a break but can’t get herself out of a financial hole especially when her stock crashes.

The rest of the cast is adequate. Paul Dano is believable in his role as the man who started a movement of sorts. Rogen has some intriguing scenes of financial revelations between his character and his wife (Olivia Thirlby). Davidson is appropriately, for lack of a better word, dumb on screen capturing his character’s nuances well.  Dumb Money is ultimately a good movie but could have been a bit more with a little more development. Ramos’s Marcus is not at all developed beyond a basic everyday Joe who wanted to get rich without putting in the necessary hard work. A lot of the supporting characters here are like Marcus, making them hard to relate to.

Still, Dumb Money is a fast paced ride that will keep viewers watching, especially if they didn’t follow this story on the news when it originally happened. There is some added curiosity factor to this movie when one realizes it’s a true story. Even 23 years after the great Boiler Room, the every day person still really doesn’t have a “jump shot.” But, the average person got pretty close to having one through the events that transpired in this new film. I liked it.

Rating: 7/10

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