Review by Dan Skip Allen
Dumb Money is very similar to Adam McKay’s The Big Short, which came out about eight years ago, kicking off a wave of other films imitating it. It has a similar theme following a group of people during an economic crisis. In that case, it was the housing market crash of the 2000s, and in this film is a Wall Street stock market shape-up. Although Dumb Money doesn't have the same fast editing or fantasy storytelling, it is still entertaining.
"Dumb Money" refers to people who buy into failing stocks or useless stocks. The people who own the hedge funds that drive the stock market get richer off of these people, while the people are like a squirrel crawling around in the dark looking for an acorn — which they rarely find. That's the premise behind this film. A nobody named Keith Gill (Paul Dano), who calls himself "Roaring Kitty" on YouTube, notices a trend going backward and decides to invest his life savings in GameStop stock.
This ends up getting him a bunch of followers, including a GameStop employee (Anthony Ramos), two Austin Texas college students (Talia Ryder and Myhala Herrold), and a struggling mother of two who is a first responder nurse (America Ferrera). These people believe in this man, and it pays off big for them. They all become rich overnight. That is until the bottom crashes out on them due to shady business practices from an app creator and some hedge fund guys willing to bail out their buddies.
Gillespie uses a framing sequence to help tell the story of the wacky scenario involving the attack on Nancy Kerrigan in I, Tonya, but he doesn't do that in this movie. He tells this story with the help of Rebecca Angelo and Lauren Schuker much more straightforwardly. They follow these characters around from the beginning of the film. At first, the hedge fund guys played by Seth Rogen, Vincent D'Onofrio, and Nick Offerman, as well as the Robinhood app creator (Sebastian Stan), are all smug and on their high horse. They act like nothing's wrong until it is. The filmmakers use tons of news footage covering these events to tell the true story.
The editing going back and forth between all these characters doesn't hurt the story at all. The back and forth makes for a much more riveting story overall. We get to meet these people and see what their lives are like. The film wants us to pick sides, and because of that, we get invested in this story and the little guy, which is all the people who followed the Dano character. There are also song choices that are put into the film at certain junctures that we can go along with, including the White Stripes "Seven Nation Army," usually an anthem for the downtrodden or those who are disrespected. This song was perfectly used in the movie.
One of the best parts of The Big Short and I, Tonya is how absurd the characters or the story within the film are depicted. Sometimes, that's what makes them funny. The same goes for this film. Pete Davidson plays the brother of Dano’s character, and he is used perfectly as comedic relief, especially during the Senate Zoom meeting hearing on the whole GameStop and Memestock situation. Davidson has a knack for advising and saying the funniest things at the most unperturbed time. He had me in stitches.
Dumb Money fills in the gaps perfectly for me, who wasn't up to date on this whole scenario. I felt Gillespie and the writers informed me on what was going on very well. They made me pick a side. Of course, I was going to pick the side of the little guy, and they told the story in an entertaining way that was funny and informative. The cast was all stellar, including Dano, Davidson, Ferrara, Ramos, Rogen, and others. This was a fun look at a bad situation for many people. Nobody wins when the government gets their hands in the situation, though, and that's what happens here.
Dumb Money is now playing in theaters.