The Big Short Review

Max Bowman, Writer

It’s interesting to see how a movie that completely skewers big business and banks could be made a mainstream Hollywood movie, considering that A) Hollywood is big business, and B) that the movie’s financial backing comes from bankers. The film The Big Short not only manages to paint a vivid portrait of past corruption, but also unveils how something so terrifying could easily happen again.

The Big Short follows the tragic housing market crash of 2008, putting the spotlight on a handful of people who managed to see the impending crash, and wrought out a fortune. One of the focuses of the film is Michael Burry (Christian Bale), a mathematical genius with a severe social disability, who is able to predict the economic drop and make a fortune. On the other end of the spectrum you have Jamie (Finn Whittrock) and Charlie (John Magaro), two bumbling idiots who by chance stumbleupon information pointing towards the crisis. Leading them to enlist Ben Rickertt (Brad Pitt), a financial broker who, after being disgusted by the corruption in Wall Street, decided to retire and live as a mix between a self help guru, government conspiracy (which given the events of the film, is 100 percent justified). Finally there’s Mark Buam (Steve Carrell), a neurotic hedge fund manager who is struggling to deal with the recent death of a loved one, bridging a gap between him and his family. Personally I hope Steve Carrell continues his renaissance of serious roles, (Foxcatcher, The Way, Way Back, and now, The Big Short) as I find him to be a much more talented actor than a comedian, being able to completely immerse himself into his roles. The way he portrays his characters from simple mannerisms to the way they speak makes each role stand out, and he continues to portray his talent in this movie as well. Top actor goes to Christian Bale though. It’s shocking the amount of commitment he puts into his role as the socially stunted mathematician, given that he had about the least amount of screentime and yet managed to become the most dazzling role.

Big business use big busy words. The result is this, most people will veer away from this film from fear of just not being able to understand the complicated terms and banking mumbo jumbo. Interestingly enough it turns out these terms are convoluted on purpose. Banks and Wall Street wolves come up with complicated terms such as CDO’s and subprime loans that are meant to confuse the regular people, letting them get away with screwing over the common man who has no inside knowledge of Wall Street slang, thus being able to sell crap to people who think their receiving diamonds. The film breaks down these terms through cutaways of celebrity cameos, who entertainingly break down the complicated aspects of the film in such an effective way that even a middle schooler could understand it.

Hilariously scary is one way to describe the film. While it never once made me laugh out loud, I was grinning ear to ear throughout the entire movie, and suitably distressed when the film called for it. The comedy never takes over the movie. At the end of the day this is a film that’s goal is to tell a true story that needs to be heard, not to make you laugh. Yes the men in suits are preposterously cartoonish and you can’t help but laugh at their alien actions, but it never veers into the preposterous or ludicrous. Unfortunately, the drama isn’t as well executed. By no means is it bad, it just comes down to the simple fact that you’re dealing with people who are profiting of poor people’s misery. The film clearly doesn’t want you to think these guys are heros, and even goes through the trouble of stating this two times through narration. It’s just that Mark Buams character arc specifically; just isn’t that sympathetic and loses some impact due to this. With the Oscars coming up I wouldn’t be surprised if The Big Short won film of the year. That’s saying something considering it’s amazing competition (Mad Max Fury Road!). It’s that good. Informative, shocking, and containing comedy in spades, I can wholeheartedly recommend this film to just about anyone.