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February 29, 2024
Peter Calder

Dumb Money: a standard film covering the GameStop short squeeze (2 minute read)

Digestible is the way I would describe "Dumb Money".

I think it got quite a bit too much excitement for what it was, and that resulted in a drop in the box office. I understood what the film was trying to do; I just think it was delivered in a very simple and predictable way that didn’t bring anything new to the genre or space. A comparison I would give it to is "The Big  Short". They are both about financial situations that happened primarily in North America, and they’re both scripted features with A-list cast members. Where "The Big Short" stands out, in my opinion, is the delivery; it uses unique ways to convey its’ story and explain things to the viewer. "Dumb Money" doesn’t really do anything unique at all.  

For a quick overview, "Dumb Money" is about the GameStop short squeeze, which was when a lot of big hedge funds shorted the GameStop stock, meaning they were betting that GameStop was going to go down and eventually go out of business, so they would make money off of its downfall by predicting it before it happens. Then, a Reddit group and community of “dumb  money” investors, which is the term given to individual small investors and people who make mistakes. This term was Wall Street slang. The film follows this small group of investors becoming bigger and bigger as a community to drive up the GameStop stock, effectively ruining the bets and predictions the big hedge funds made. It is a very interesting story and narrative to explore for a feature film.  

The cast was the highlight of this film; they were by far the best part of it. Seth Rogen also reminded me of what a great actor he is as he played a role very different from what we usually see him in, without any goofy or comical sides. Paul Dano was my favourite part of this film; he is a great actor. Seeing him initially in "There Will Be Blood" was tremendous; in the latest  Batman film, he was a standout in "Dumb Money".

The film did have the bones, the foundation to be a great film. In terms of the characters, the story had all of the right, interesting perspectives on all sides of the narrative; it just felt like something was missing. On the upside, I do like how they recognized some key themes, such as bringing in the modern world and showing the more comical side of the internet by combining roaring kitty-type content with the traditional old-fashioned nature of the hedge fund execs.

Another detail that I found interesting was the way the hedge fund characters interacted with each other and wanted to one-up each other,  which was contrasted by the Reddit community, who wanted to help each other.  

The film itself had the right setup and beginnings to push the genre of this type of film, but unfortunately, it was left to being a standard, easy-to-digest film exploring a simple narrative of real-life events.