One of the standout films from TIFF 2023 is the comedy-drama Dumb Money. Here’s Kevin Bourne with his Dumb Money film review.
Spartacus. Braveheart. The Patriot. Everyone loves a good war epic where the oppressed band together to overthrow the oppressor.
One of the standout films from TIFF 2023 so far is Sony Pictures’ Dumb Money, based on Ben Mezrich’s book The Antisocial Network about the true David vs. Goliath story of when amateur investors made history by successfully challenging Wall Street. Despite hedge fund manager Gabe Plotkin (Seth Rogen) betting billions on the failure of the GameStop stock, Keith Gill aka “Roaring Kitty” (Paul Dano) and his Reddit and YouTube community made GME the hottest stock in the world.
After becoming an international phenomenon, making headlines around the world, the history-making event lands Gill, Citadel CEO Ken Griffin (Nick Offerson), fund manager Gabe Plotkin (Seth Rogen), and Robin Hood CEO Vlad Tenev (Sebastian Stan) in front of the United States House Committee on Financial Services.
It’s a story of small town America vs. corporate America, the lower class vs. the upper class, and how the financial system is made to make the rich richer. The is depicted as a high drama revolution of sorts, a middle finger to the oppressor, that the average viewer will be able to relate to even if they don’t know what the heck a “”short squeeze” is.
Director Craig Gillespie, who previously appeared at TIFF with I, Tanya, returns once again using humor to tell the story of an another world altering scandal.
While the film is very well-written, with lots of humor and tension as our lead and supporting characters must decide whether to hold or sell, the film wouldn’t be what it is without a strong ensemble cast.
With the blend of comedy and drama, this film is right up Seth Rogen‘s alley. As a fund manager in the high-pressure, high-stakes world of finance, he shows his range as an actor. Peter Davidson and Shailene Woodley are believable as Gill’s annoying brother and supportive, ride-or-die wife. The onscreen sibling dynamic between Dano and Davidson was as real as it could get. Meanwhile, America Ferrera, Anthony Ramos, Talia Ryder, and Myha’la Herrold‘s portrayals of Roaring Kitty followers and amateur investors were essential for the successful telling of the underdog story.
Despite being wrapped up in a quirky little bow, the film is chalked full of inspiration. Think Spartacus for nerds and anyone who has ever felt overlooked, only set within the financial industry. Dumb Money joins the ranks of legendary epics where the poor and drastically outnumbered underdog somehow defeats their rich oppressor through strategy and sheer force of will. There’s an underlying message that no matter who you are or where you’re from, anyone can change the world, especially if we dare to challenge the status quo.
While many people yawn when thinking about the financial industry, at the core of this film is a timeless story that we can all relate to and have all heard before, but not as Craig Gillespie tells it.
Vive la révolution!
SHIFTER editor, Kevin Bourne, is a Toronto-based entertainment journalist focusing on Black music and film & TV. He was named one of 310 international voters for the 81st Golden Globe Awards by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and a Tomatometer-Approved Critic by Rotten Tomatoes.