Opening 2 Nov 2023
“Institutional investors and mutual fund companies are labeled “smart money," while retail (individual) investors are called "dumb money." – investopedia.com
In January 2021, a GameStop short squeeze occurred challenging Wall Street as the underdogs catch bigwigs and government off guard. Dumb Money – Schnelles Geld is smart and funny; Lauren Schuker Blum and Rebecca Angelo’s intelligently constructed screenplay, and under Craig Gillespie’s direction the action increases in value as the story unfolds. The film’s foundation is Ben Mezrich’s non-fiction 2021 book, The Antisocial Network; Mezrich’s 2009 book, The Accidental Billionaires, spawned The Social Network film by Aaron Sorkin in 2010.
Paul Dano plays Keith Gill, at the helm in his basement video studio, who has acquired a healthy following of average working-class traders using different names, aka Roaring Kitty/DeepFuckingValue, on different media platforms. The Massachusetts husband/father’s preposterous marketing skills, and loyalty to the small retail company tip the scales. Pete Davidson as brother Kevin unmercifully kids his venture, Deniz Akdeniz his (successful) university friend Briggsy is concerned, and as his parents Kate Burton and Clancy Brown are skeptical. Only Shailene Woodley as wife Caroline steadfastly supports his decisions. The mishmash of Roaring Kitty’s followers, ranging from nurse to GameStop employee, are America Ferrera, Myha'la Herrold, Talia Ryder, and Anthony Ramos.
On the Wall Street team are Seth Rogen as rascally Gabe Plotkin, Melvin Capital hedge fund founder and Vincent D'Onofrio as Plotkin’s mentor, Nick Offerman as Kenneth C. Griffin, another hedge fund guy and Citadel and Citadel Securities founder, and the markedly deceptive Robinhood trading-app cofounder Vlad Tenev played by Sebastian Stan.
Kirk Baxter’s quick-paced editing sets the exhilarating tempo that with Will Bates’s soundtrack and wonderfully chosen popular music pump the adrenaline charge higher. Baxter cleverly inserts archival CNBC news media material, e.g., the 2021 U.S. congressional hearing testimony, and shrewdly adds stills of the honest-to-goodness individuals at the end. Cinematographer Nikolas Karakatsanis filmed in New Jersey; production design by Scott Kuzio.
In the long term, the highs, lows, and one player’s bellyflop capture the surging elation of 2021’s mood when the David’s are trouncing the Goliaths. Besides being entertaining, Dumb Money manages to detangle short fall and dumb money complexities whereby they are understandable. A sidenote: billionaire Ken Griffin, Citadel founder, is in legal wrangling with Sony Pictures behind-the-scenes about his and the company’s portrayal in the film. (Marinell Haegelin)