Friday, April 12, 2024

Sony Has First Hit in A Long Time without Spider Man in It in “Dumb Money,” Which Also Mentions Jimmy Buffett (Review)


The late Jimmy Buffett gets a shout out in Craig Gillespie’s “Dumb Money,” a smart comedy that opens September 22nd and has been at the Toronto Film Festival.

It’s Pete Davidson, who plays a hilarious second banana to Paul Dano. who namechecks Buffett. The movie was made before Buffett’s tragic death on September 1st.

“Dumb Money” may be Sony Pictures’ first hit without Spider Man in quite a long time. Remember a couple of years ago when the stock market went crazy over GameStop’s stock? The stock was manipulated by a Reddit group called Robinhood, which — as they say in the film — was stealing from the poor to give to the rich? This is that story.

Paul Dano — in a tremendous performance — plays Keith Gill, an outlier on YouTube who starts plugging GameStop to a growing number of small investors. His followers turn into an army. investing millions in small amounts in Game Stop, driving the price up like crazy. Wall Street quickly catches on in the person of Gabe Plotkin of Melvin Capital– a restrained Seth Rogen — who joins the fray and suddenly is worth a ton more money until GameStop catches on, as does Dow Jones, the market tanks as everyone catches on.

“Dumb Money” is an actual original comedy, certainly the ,most recent best of the year after “Air.” It’s breezy and witty, with lots of LOL moments and great lines while also explaining — in a more concise manner than “The Big Short ” — how the stock market can be manipulated in the age of social media. Gill’s success — with no real expertise — came as a shock. The genie cannot be put back in the bottle, but now there are controls set up to watch for this kind of monetary mayhem.

With a first rate screenplay guiding him, Dano — as usual — hits it out of the ballpark. He makes Gill — an everyman — sympathetic as he rakes in millions almost innocently, really more as a hobby than exercise in avarice. Davidon is used wisely by Gillespie as a spice and not the whole meal as a kind of stoner pal with some words of wisdom. Shailene Woodley is lovely as Gill’s wife. Sebastian Stan makes a goofy cameo, too.

“Dumb Money” should be a hit in theatrical release. It’s broad enough to attract a non-business crowd yet intrigue anyone who has knowledge of how to play the day trader game. Look for lots of awards attention with Critics Choice and Golden Globes (if they have them).

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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