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Movie Review: 'Dumb Money' recalls GameStop squeeze, when regular investors clashed with Wall Street

"Dumb Money" is a movie that tells the real story of a financial rebellion led by small investors against Wall Street. It focuses on the GameStop stock surge and the impact it had on hedge funds. The film aims to champion the little guy and shed light on the flaws of the financial system. The cast includes Paul Dano, Pete Davidson, America Ferrera, and Seth Rogen. The movie highlights the power of social media and the role it played in the stock market frenzy.

"Dumb Money" is a captivating film that tells the true story of a recent financial rebellion that shook Wall Street. The movie follows Keith Gill, played by Paul Dano, a new dad from the Boston suburbs who becomes an online sensation by sharing his stock picks while wearing quirky cat-themed T-shirts and a red headband. Despite skepticism from some characters who question taking investment advice from a guy in a cat shirt, Gill's influence grows.

Gill's focus was on GameStop, a struggling retail chain that sells video games and accessories. While large institutional Wall Street firms were betting on the company's failure, Gill managed to convince smaller-pocketed and novice investors to buy GameStop stock. This resulted in a "short squeeze," causing hedge funds to suffer billions in losses. However, Wall Street fought back, not always playing fair.

The title "Dumb Money" refers to the derogatory term used by institutional investors to describe regular people. The film celebrates the little guy, portraying likable blue-collar workers and students from Texas, Pittsburgh, and Boston, while depicting Wall Street guys as cartoonish figures playing tennis or enjoying lavish meals served by servants.

Written by former Wall Street Journal reporters-turned-screenwriters Lauren Schuker Blum and Rebecca Angelo, the script offers a corrective to movies like "The Wolf of Wall Street" and "The Big Short," which focused on boardrooms. "Dumb Money" takes place in dorms, basement offices, and hospitals. Instead of Margot Robbie explaining complex financial products in a bathtub, a fully-clothed nurse, played by America Ferrera, engages in discussions between rounds.

The cast, including Pete Davidson, Vincent D'Onofrio, Nick Offerman, Anthony Ramos, Sebastian Stan, Shailene Woodley, and Seth Rogen, delivers outstanding performances. Davidson, known for his comedic skills, shines in both comedic and dramatic moments. Dano portrays the calm, relatable center of the film, instantly likable. The soundtrack, featuring Cardi B's "WAP," adds to the overall delight of the movie.

The most compelling moments in "Dumb Money" occur when GameStop's stock skyrockets by 1,600%, turning potential investors into paper millionaires. However, they face the dilemma of whether to cash out or hold on for more gains. There is a palpable belief in Gill and a defiant "we're-not-gonna-take-it-anymore" attitude from the so-called dumb money towards the status quo.

The film delivers a clear populist message: as long as Wall Street undervalues the importance of everyday people, the financial system will remain broken. The GameStop revolution served as a corrective to this imbalance. As Gill's wife tells him, "The game has changed."

Director Craig Gillespie enhances the movie with snippets of real TV news coverage from networks like CNN, Fox Business, and CNBC, as well as internet memes used by small investors, often featuring gorillas. These memes encouraged each other to hold onto GameStop stock not solely for financial gain but to defy the hedge funds that profit from massive layoffs.

While the ending of the film may leave some unsatisfied, it is not the fault of the filmmakers. The stock frenzy of 2021 led to the downfall of a hedge fund and exposed troubling practices by the mobile trading platform Robinhood. However, Wall Street, as depicted by the slogan on Gill's kitty poster, continues to persist.

"Dumb Money" is a Sony Pictures release with an R rating for pervasive language, sexual material, and drug use. The film has a runtime of 110 minutes and receives three out of four stars.

Overall, "Dumb Money" is a thought-provoking and entertaining film that sheds light on a financial rebellion driven by everyday individuals. It showcases the power of collective action and highlights the need for a more inclusive and fair financial system.

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