Dumb Money is supposed to educate viewers on how the stock market was overturned by amateur buyers who invested in the video store retailer GameStop, causing a disruption felt by Wall Street. The film is informative, though viewers are still required to know the basics of stock market culture before buying a ticket. However, what I find more interesting than the biographical intentions of Dumb Money is that director Craig Gillespie (I, Tonya) has made a film about how hopeless feelings were somewhat flipped during the COVID-19 pandemic through the unconventional and unpredictable elements of the stock market. This thematic frequency is matched in the writing provided by screenwriters Lauren Schuker Blum and Rebecca Angelo (both previously wrote for Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black).
Much of Dumb Money is very relatable. Not only because of the surface-level recognition of how life was during global lockdown doldrums, but because the film identifies the unbalance between those who were financially affected by the pandemic and those who barely felt a nudge. Dumb Money makes a case for the unheard working class, as well as for curious students, who were desperate for reassurance during bleak times. While the film is spread awfully thin to connect with various characters (all played well by a diverse and talented all-star cast), the movie feels like an outspoken voice for this exhausted population.
At the centre of Dumb Money is vlogger Keith Gill aka. Roaring Kitty (Paul Dano of The Fabelmans). Though the film works in reverse to make this YouTuber a well-rounded underdog, Dano does a good job anchoring the movie and injecting energetic encouragement in the movement his character spearheads. Even when the character struggles to find an even ground between confidence and cockiness, Dano always has a full understanding of Gill. Like those who followed Gill’s financial insight, the audience feels comfortable sticking with Dano’s eccentric performance.
Those looking for a conventional comedy should look elsewhere, as Dumb Money doesn’t offer a consistent string of laughs. The movie also doesn’t feel too serious, for risk of losing the audience in dense material. Dumb Money may end up underwhelming because of how middling it is, but this subdued approach may build towards its longevity as a lightweight crowd-pleaser.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie