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The Big Short

Coming Soon

Sometimes things are just so bad all you can do is laugh at them. Other times they’re terrible and there’s no place for humor. In the mid-2000s countless people lost their homes, livelihoods and their futures due to blatant fraud and corruption in the world of big banking. It was terrible and we’re still feeling the effects today. That being said, Adam McKay (director of the Anchorman movies, Talladega Nights, Step Brothers and The Other Guys) is taking a bold chance in tackling this serious subject by infusing some humor into it. The Big Short has an all-star cast as well as an accomplished comedic director so there’s no telling how this one will play out. Well if you read on then you might have an inkling.
Based on a book by Michael Lewis called The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine (2010) comes the movie The Big Short directed by Adam McKay. Both pieces of work deal with the inflation of the housing and credit bubble all the through to its eventual demise. The one difference from the book to the movie is that the story is told with a mixture flare and some lightheartedness. Four men in different places in their lives and careers eventually see the same big picture and come to the same conclusion, the housing market is on the verge of an epic collapse. Michael Burry (Christian Bale) is the hedge fund manager that realized something was grossly flawed in the housing market system. He is the catalyst for everything that follows. It’s his unwillingness to accept the lame excuses thrown his way that sets everything in motion. This small ripple in the pond has the potential to create a massive tidal wave in the end.
Mark Baum (Steve Carell) is a money manager with an attitude. Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling) is the mortgage trader looking for any angle. Ben Rickert (Brad Pitt) is the retired and ultra paranoid investing guru. The Big Short has several mini-plots which all run parallel leading to the events that turned the housing market upside down. Michael Burry in his own unorthodoxed unique way is the one who figures out the banks building big business on toothpicks and assume these frail pieces of wood will hold up the massive weights from above. Nope! The problem is that no one will heed Michael’s warnings no matter how adamant he is about his findings. Mark Baum and his team handle their business in more of a crass style. If Mark has something on his mind he’ll speak it without filters. One of the enablers on Mark’s staff is Vinny Daniel (Jeremy Strong) who often looks as though he’d love to find a reason smack the smug looks off pretentious banker types’ faces.
The firm catches wind of what Burry is throwing down and their curiosity is piqued and decide to investigate further. This leads them to the ambitious Jared Vennett who, for a fee, offers to help Baum’s team make some real money. These moves filter down to a young duo trying to make their way into the game. Jamie (Finn Wittrock) and Charlie (John Magaro) end up calling on the one person they know and trust who could decipher the information they stumbled onto, and that would be Ben Rickert. There are many moving parts and, while we don’t get to see all of these big names together on the screen at the same time, everything is tied together on way or another.
As these stories intertwine, intersect and twist about while exposing all that is wrong with some of our top federally regulated financial institutions it’s hard to fathom that it could actually be an enjoyable experience. Well surprise, it is! Again, the underlying story itself is a tragedy that is all too real for many Americans. The real genius comes in manner in which Adam McKay tells this modern day swashbuckling story of swindle. The average movie fan might be turned off by a story about how the housing market works on the financial end. McKay’s infusion of colorful characters, witty dialogue and unexpected humor works well in masking the bitter pill that we are subconsciously swallowing. There’s a lot of diversity on the screen and behind the camera as this somewhat unique approach is taken. It makes one wonder how the actors felt about being involved in such a project. I actually was able to sit down with two of the The Big Short’s co-stars and discuss Adam McKay’s decision to use humor in this serious subject. Here’s some of what John Magaro and Jeremy Strong had to say:
[John] I found it really refreshing. As a lover of films, even if I wasn’t a part of The Big Short I would love this film, it’s a new approach. You can say there’s other things like it but there’s nothing that close to it. I think Adam is sort of inventing something new here, like a docu-comedy-drama pop culture thing. [Jeremy] I put this film in the same category as Unbroken, Zero Dark Thirty, Lincoln and Selma. I was blown away by The Big Short. I think it is inspired and personal. Even though it’s a humorous movie, it’s ever ounce as serious as those other movies. Even though you laugh more and are more entertained, which is a funny thing that that’s not a virtue, you can still find entertainment in serious moments. This movie is about mortgage backed securities, and while has a real kind of buoyancy and fun and whimsy and imagination to it, I think it’s a serious film with a swift kick in the gut.”
The actors performances are spot on from beginning to end, with each and every one of them pulling their own weight. There are no weak spots to be seen. Surprising, enlightening and infuriating are just a few of the adjectives that can be used to describe one’s feelings as the layers of this complex story are continuously peeled. The Big Short is this year’s The Wolf of Wall Street and should receive similar accolades. If given the opportunity, this docu-drama will steal your interest and your attention. Check it out in theaters now.

The Big Short is streaming now on the following services:
Movie Reelist Contributor: Carl Wheeler

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