Who knew that financial movies about the world finance would become so hot?
After the success of Matt Johnson’s BlackBerry earlier this year, Dumb Money is another film that speaks to the role of technology and its impact on the world of finance. However, unlike BlackBerry, Dumb Money embraces the ridiculous nature of truth with a style and flair that makes the movie a ton of fun.
Directed by Craig Gillespie, Dumb Money tells the true story of Keith Gill (Paul Dano), an amateur investor who operates his YouTube channel out of his basement. At the height of the pandemic, while hedge fund managers like Gabe Plotkin (Seth Rogen) were betting big against the failure of small stocks, Gill came to like the upside of GameStop shares. To him, it was a company that was undervalued and he took to the world of Reddit to share his views. Then, as his followers began to pay attention, the stock shockingly flourished as Gill and his internet army put the squeeze on big money.
Money deals with some complicated financial concepts yet its playfulness keeps the viewer engaged. Whether it’s TikTok videos, memes, or YouTube clips, Gillespie never allows the camera to stop moving when he’s showcasing the ‘average person’. The energy of its depiction allows the viewer to believe that they’re engaging with Gill and the internet subculture. (Although, ironically, his filming of those in high finance appears far more stoic and standard in nature.) In doing so, Gillespie ensures that, even if the audience doesn’t fully understand the world of stocks and shorts, they feel like they’re following along.
After all, these characters aren’t financial geniuses either. Like the rest of us, they’re just regular people who have minimum wage jobs or students with high loan debt. But, while they may not know much about finance, they are willing to take some risks, especially if it seems like it’s (initially) low risk with a high payoff. So, when they’re presented with the opportunity to follow Gill into the Promised Land, they band together to try and make some extra money. In this way, Gillespie ensures that Money has the feel of a modern David and Goliath story. With his unintentional internet stardom, Gill became the inadvertent figurehead of a movement that became symbolic of the Internet era. By posting videos of himself online, sharing stock portfolios, countless others looked to him for advice regarding their financial futures.
But, to his following, Gill was more than a financial advisor. Instead, Gill became a modern-day Robin Hood, willing to take down mega-corporations at a time when the world felt like everything was being stolen from them. The unlikeliest of heroes, Gill’s interest in GameStop was a proverbial middle finger held up against the corporate giants who controlled the game of the stock market. For everyone involved, this became a moment to fight for their own rights against ‘big money’.
And all because he ‘just liked the stock’.
In the end, Dumb Money may not a profound character piece or in-depth psychological drama. Instead, this is a film that works effectively, laughs fully and wears its heart on its sleeve. Smartly-written, sassy and savvy, Dumb Money is a fun-fueled battle against the bullies in all our lives.
And, like Gill himself, it’s hard not to ‘just like the [film]’.
Dumb Money is available in limited theatres on Friday, September 22nd, 2023 with a larger roll-out on Friday, September 29th, 2023.