The Big Short (review)

A friend asked my opinion of The Big Short, and I told her, “It was extaordinary” (I think my actual words were “It was very good,” but I am allowed a tad of artistic license). She didn’t think it was her sort of movie, due to its subject matter. When I told her it was quite comical, (very funny) she looked at me as if I had told her the moon was flat (two-dimensional).

I cannot blame her for her misconceptions about The Big Short, for she has a career and a social life–unlike me. She doesn’t have the time to read every review, and watch every trailer on YouTube–unlike me. I wouldn’t classify the film as a comedy. It’s more of a drama that’s told in a humorous way. The colapse of the housing market is anything but funny, but how it came about is ridiculous . . . Seriously.

Christian Bale is nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar at this year’s Academy Awards for his portrayal of Michael Burry M.D. Burry is the hedge fund manager who had an inkling that the housing market was about to go bust. He made a large bet against the market, and made a boatload of cash. Actually, he made a fleet of very large boats, each filled with money. What is not explained in the film is how a doctor got into to business of hedging funds. I guess it’s better than funding hedges. The merkin market has pretty much dried up. Except for maybe the cast of the TV series, Black Sails.

Bond salesperson Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling) catches wind of what Burry is up to, so he decides to do something similar. Vennett makes a call to the wrong company called FrontPoint, (not on purpose) and makes mention of what is going on. I don’t know what the FrontPoint he meant to call does, but the one he did get through to is a hedge fund managed by Mark Baum (Steve Carell, who should have been nominated for a Oscar). Baum is intrigued by Vennett, so he asks him to stop by and explain his plan; which he does–using Jenga blocks. As you do. It’s that kind of movie.

Then there these two dudes from Colorado, (John Magaro and Finn Wittrock) who want to become big time wheeler-dealers, but lack the assets. Basically, they want to buy a Ferrari, but they can only afford a Fiat. Still a great car, but not what they want. They stumble across Vennett’s plan, but not in the way depicted in the film. They decide to call someone they know; a man named Ben Rickert (Brad Pitt, who appeared to be channelling Russell Crowe). Rickert is a retired banker, who became disillusioned by what he saw an an unsavory business. Rickert helps the pair get their feet in the door, and now they are in the game as well.

The Big Short is an outlandish film in which there are no good guys. Some are worse than others, but I noticed a distinct lack of white hats. Maybe some were grey, but none were white. In Wall Street, and The Wolf of Wall Street, Gordon Gekko and Jordan Belfort were bad guys, and anyone with a conscience wanted to see them rot in prison. So in essence, the G-men were the good guys. In The Big Short, it’s Wall Street-types vs bankers, so who do you root for? It’s a bit like two schoolyard bullies duking it out. And now you know why I keep my money in a bank shaped like a pig.

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