Dumb Money: A Laugh-Out-Loud Look at a Serious Financial Meltdown

The film is based on the book "The Antisocial Network" by Ben Mezrich from the year 2021 and follows the events related to the sudden and unexpected jump in the value of shares of the chain of gaming equipment stores GameStop

by Sededin Dedovic
Dumb Money: A Laugh-Out-Loud Look at a Serious Financial Meltdown
© Sony Pictures Entertainment / Youtube channel

Dumb Money, a comedy biopic directed by Craig Gillespie and written by Lauren Schuker Blum and Rebecca Angelo, is inspired by the 2021 book "The Antisocial Network" by Ben Mezrich. It chronicles the meteoric rise and subsequent volatility of GameStop's stock price.

The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2023 before hitting theaters shortly thereafter. It's the incredible true story of ordinary people who disrupted Wall Street and became rich by turning a chain of stores from shopping malls into the most popular company on the stock market.

It centers on low-key Kit Gill (played by Paul Dano), an insurance analyst by day who works as Roaring Kitty, an internet sensation known for her bold statements about GameStop stock on social media. His unwavering belief in the company, despite being heavily undercut by the big Wall Street hedge funds, attracts a legion of followers.

For those unfamiliar with the intricacies of the stock market, Dumb Money excels at explaining the situation in a clear and concise manner. However, in the film the priority is to explain what happened rather than why it happened and how it happened.

There is a noticeable lack of depth when it comes to the characters involved in this conflict between hedge fund executives and the so-called "dumb money" of individual investors.

Dumb Money© Sony Pictures Entertainment / Youtube channel

This absence of a strong human element is even more apparent when juxtaposed with constant explanations of what the characters are doing or hoping to achieve.

While documentaries rely on facts, figures and historical footage, Dumb Money is a dramatization. Without a clear focus on the people driving and affected by these events, the film struggles to really resonate as a drama. Perhaps the closest thing to a central character is Kit Gill.

He's a soft-spoken insurance analyst by day, but by night he transforms into Roaring Kitty, a charismatic internet personality. His unwavering belief in GameStop, a company dismissed by many, including Wall Street giants, resonates with the growing online community.

Another key element is the "gamification" of the situation. By collectively buying more and more GameStop stock, retail investors could inflict significant losses on the multibillion-dollar hedge funds that have bet against the company.

We meet various hedge fund executives, like the boisterous Gabe Plotkin (Seth Rogen) and the ruthless Steve Cohen (Vincent D'Onofrio), who employ short-selling tactics, essentially betting on the company's failure. These antagonists are portrayed as one-dimensional, self-serving eccentrics, offering a stark contrast to working-class heroes like Keith and his family.

The supporting cast is a motley assortment of ordinary people: a single mom working two jobs, a nurse struggling with student loan debt, ambitious college students yearning for financial independence, and even a disgruntled GameStop employee longing to escape his low salary , pandemics - impact on business.

While this makes for a diverse ensemble, the film struggles to juggle so many characters within its limited running time, especially given the complex subject of class warfare it seeks to explore.

Dumb Money© Sony Pictures Entertainment / Youtube channel

The film successfully exposes the complex details of an unusual stock market story in an entertaining and understandable way.

Paul Dano is outstanding as Kit Gil, and Seth Rogen and Vincent D'Onofrio bring a comedic edge to their roles. The film raises important questions about wealth inequality and stock market manipulation while at the same time keeping the viewer's attention through fast pacing and editing.

The characters are pretty superficial and stereotypical, except for Kit Gill. The film focuses too much on celebrating the "little people" and doesn't take into account all aspects of this story. It's true that the producers wanted to make a forced comedy, but they ignored the full potential of this story.

The film would have been even stronger if it had focused more on the motivations and psychology of the characters.
It would have been interesting to see more scenes from the perspective of the hedge funds, and it should have been longer to delve deeper into all aspects of this complex story, however, this was largely neglected.

Overall, Dumb Money offers a thought-provoking look into the modern financial system and the motivations of the wealthy elite who benefit from its complexity. The film celebrates the small victories of the underdogs, but fails to delve deeper into the harsh reality and manipulative tactics that ultimately turned these would-be winners into losers.

Despite its flaws, Dumb Money's fast pace, comedic elements, and diverse cast make it a fun exploration of this remarkable real-life event, especially for those unfamiliar with the ins and outs of the GameStop saga. If you are only interested in a movie that will make you laugh, then we recommend watching it.