Saturday 24 February 2024

Movie Review: Dumb Money (2023)

Genre: Comedy Drama  
Director: Craig Gillespie  
Starring: Paul Dano, Shailene Woodley, Seth Rogen, Vincent D'Onofrio  
Running Time: 104 minutes  

Synopsis: During the Covid pandemic, YouTuber Keith Gill (Paul Dano), better known as Roaring Kitty, spots what he believes is the undervalued stock of the company GameSpot, which is heavily shorted by Wall Street experts including hedge fund manager Gabe Plotkin (Seth Rogen). Keith invests more than $50,000 and shares the tip with his followers, who start to buy the stock. Communicating on Reddit forums and trading commission-free on the Robinhood app, retail investors drive up the stock price in a buying frenzy. Keith is suddenly very wealthy, and everyone awaits his next move.

What Works Well: This true David versus Goliath story highlights seismic shifts in stock market dynamics, as social media and the breaking down of barriers-to-entry allow small investors to challenge traditional wisdom. The story carries it's own power, deploying doses of humour, never lingering in one place for too long, and using multiple perspectives to convey chaotic ripple effects during surreal lockdown times. Shailene Woodley as Keith's wife adds pragmatism from the sidelines. 

What Does Not Work As Well: Both the soundtrack and the dialogue opt for vulgarity over wit, dramatically cheapening the storytelling. By chasing after many small stories (a couple of college students, a nurse, a GameSpot store employee, Keith's brother and parents, the Robinhood entrepreneurs, and several Wall Street types are all wedged in), none of the characters are afforded much depth and the overarching narrative is lost in the cacophony. The celebratory premise is ambushed in the financial canyon of an artificially inflated stock price, where retail investors experience a pyrrhic victory in the mad dash to the exit.

Conclusion: Plenty of zest undermined by inelegant execution.

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