Director Adam McKay is most noted for directing comedies like The Other Guys, Anchor Man and Step Brothers so when you see him take on a more serious film like The Big Short and features a great cast including Ryan Gosling, Steve Carrell, Brad Pitt, and Christian Bell it sparks some interest. Could this film bring to light the insanity of the housing crisis of the time or will it be yet another boring attempt to force history down people’s throats?
The Big Short follows four outsiders in the world of high-finance who predicted the credit and housing bubble collapse of the mid-2000s and decide to take on the big banks for their lack of foresight and greed. This is the type of film that could have easily become boring and drawn out full of speak that only a select group of people understand, but thankfully they know this and do a great job making it entertaining without mocking the subject matter. This film borders on brilliance thanks to the excellent performance, captivating story and breaking down the fourth wall at times to perfection. Films like this are so aggravating to know that it actually happened, but the way this film comes together is excellent filmmaking. There are numerous story arcs happening at once that all do their own thing while working towards the similar direction without ever feeling like they are trying to force them to come together unnecessarily. This is a true ensemble with everyone getting their chance to shine. Gosling brings the swagger to the film with a dual role as character and narrator at times. Carrell has the most emotion to deal with which gives his character the most depth as a whole and allows him to be somewhat of the moral piece to the story. Bale gives the most interesting performance as his unique character has not only social issues, but physical ones as well that require a sense of focus to make work along with the importance to the role he plays in the story itself. Of them all Pitt has the smallest role, but the mystery surrounding his character and paranoia makes for some of the better scenes of the film.
As previously mentioned there is a variety of narration in the film from not just Gosling, but a couple of others as well that could have made this film self-destruct, but instead offer up the perfect injection it needed to deliver. Without giving anything away some of the most fun of these scenes come when they are trying to explain to the audience about the varying numbers and bills they are talking about and have some interesting people stepping in to help you understand it a bit more clearly. It’s these moments that help the film keep light hearted and entertaining amiss the brutal chaos of the melt down happening to the housing market and the people dealing with it.
In the end this is a film that should elicit a wide range of emotions within the viewer just from the sheer crap that is happening in the world. Thankfully there are films like this filled with brilliant performances, a great story injected with some fun story telling elements, and the truth put right out there in front of you to take and do what you will with. Most will likely most will not think much about it past it being a movie which is sad, but hopefully it will invoke some sort of emotional response as that is what films are supposed to do. This isn’t an action packed blockbuster, but instead a great piece of filmmaking that breaks down the fourth wall in a fun way that will hopefully not only be seen by most but also get recognized at award season.