Justice would be for 100 million people to see The Big Short, rise up in anger and demand changes to ensure the fleecing of America’s middle class would not happen again.
Unfortunately, this is reality and much of the populace walks about worrying about basic things such as survival because they live paycheck to paycheck. That investment thing? That corruption thing? That breaking the laws thing?
Not my circus. Not my monkeys.
And they’re so wonderfully naïve. The Big Short, which opens on area screens Wednesday (Dec. 23) exposes the shams behind the housing crisis that threw this country into a prolonged financial tailspin back in 2008. And despite the fact that it blew away a lot of the wealth of those at the higher end of the economic spectrum, the average person suffered in the aftermath as well.
The primary reason to see The Big Short, however: it’s damn good. It’s damn entertaining. The performances are stellar all around and for a film that runs the risk of being mired in the muck of financial jargon, it’s remarkably coherent.
Written by Adam McKay and Charles Randolph from Michael Lewis’ book of the same name (Lewis also wrote Moneyball), it’s also smart and borderline sexy as it explores how a group of men discovered the financial industry’s big secret and profited handsomely from it.
That secret: that some stocks and funds were built on an untold number of ridiculous mortgages. In an effort to pad bank accounts and bottom lines, the entire stock industry dived head first into allowing unqualified individuals to by homes well out of their price range. People who couldn’t afford one home owned multiple places.
Enter the likes of hedge fund manager Michael Burry (Christian Bale), who took his life to the brink to bet against the economy, the idealist Mark Baum (Steven Carrell), who cannot deny the reality of the coming crisis and the ability to profit from it, but does so reluctantly. Brad Pitt’s Ben Rickert helps a couple of newbs to the investment world navigate their way toward profiting from the crash and Ryan Gosling’s Jared Vennett is a middle man looking for his sliver of a slice helping Baum.
The Big Short could have gotten by just exploring the ins and outs of what this group of guys did to make their cash, but McKay is just as interested in exploring the morality involved. To bet against your country’s economy could be viewed as some as noxious at worst and questionable at best. He makes it palatable, engaging and entertaining.
However, it’s the cast that deserves just as much credit. Carrell’s Baum takes comedic stress to new highs as does Gosling with Vennett’s oiliness. Then there is Bale who is the epitome of nervous energy, while Pitt’s all cool.
If there’s any justice this little film will make a big splash, but like the Crash of 2008, that would require that people be paying attention.
Movie: The Big Short
Director: Adam McKay
Cast: Christian Bale, Steven Carrell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt
Studio: Paramount Studios
Rated: R for pervasive language and some sexuality/nudity
Running time: 130 minutes
Check for theaters and showtimes at Atlas Cinemas, Cleveland Cinemas, Fandango.com and MovieTickets.com