Dumb Money
Tries to be this year’s The Big Short, but a whole lot less entertaining

Dumb Money

Release Date: September 22, 2023
Runtime: 01:45
Dumb Money is the ultimate David vs. Goliath tale, based on the insane true story of everyday people who flipped the script on Wall Street and got rich by turning GameStop (yes, the mall videogame store) into the world’s hottest company.

The story behind the 2021 GameStop short squeeze is told in . Keith Gill () is an amateur financial analyst, who posts about his stock investments on his YouTube channel Roaring Kitty and on the Reddit forum r/WallStreetBets. Keith makes a huge investment in GameStop stock, which is being short-sold by hedge fund managers such as Gabe Plotkin (), betting on the video game store chain going into bankruptcy. However, Keith's social media posts began a grassroots movement that resulted in GameStop's stock unexpectedly ballooning.

Dumb Money Synopsis

Dumb Money is a film directed by Craig Gillespie (I, Tonya), based on the 2022 book The Antisocial Network: The GameStop Short Squeeze and the Ragtag Group of Amateur Traders That Brought Wall Street to Its Knees by Ben Mezrich. The film details the events leading to and resulting from the GameStop short squeeze from January 2021. At the centre of the story is a financial vlogger Keith Gill, who is hoping for a better future for himself and his wife Caroline (), despite being frequently criticized by his loser brother Kevin ().

Keith's campaign to buy up GameStop stock picks up steam, with some of the buyers including nurse Jenny (), college students Riri (Myha'la) and Harmony (), and even GameStop employee Marcus (). When the ballooning stock prices result in billions lost for Melvin Capital Management's Gabe Plotkin, he is quickly bailed out by fellow hedgefund managers Steve Cohen (Vincent D'Onofrio) and Ken Griffin (Ken Griffin). However, the bubble of the sudden growth of the GameStop stock soon bursts when the trading app Robinhood, run by Vlad Tenev () and Baiju Bhatt (), halts the ability to buy after incurring unexpected costs.

My Thoughts on Dumb Money

With its ensemble cast and Wall Street-focused plot, it can be surmised that Dumb Money is inspiring to be this year's The Big Short, with a dash of The Social Network, as both that film and Dumb Money are based on books by Ben Mezrich. However, one thing that made The Big Short so entertaining and accessible was how Adam McKay's 2015 film frequently broke the fourth wall to explain complex financial concepts in layman's terms.

While Dumb Money does have a dialogue to somewhat explain what short-selling is, with America Ferrera's Jenny lamenting how it's a financial scam to make the rich richer, the film as a whole is played off as a straight-forward drama, even though some scenes have flourishes of comedy. The biggest drama in the film comes from Keith Gill's reluctance to sell off what now amounts to millions of dollars worth of stock, since it would mean letting the hedgefund managers win, when the GameStop stock goes down again.

Like The Big Short, Dumb Money is a film that illustrates how broken the stock markets are, as they can be rigged to make the rich richer and the poor poorer. However, Dumb Money opts to show this in a relatively straight-laced manner, which results in it being a far less entertaining film than it could have been.

Trailer for Dumb Money

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.