“The Big Short” is the most entertaining movie I’ve seen this year that I didn’t understand in the slightest.
Directed by Adam McKay and based on the book by Michael Lewis, “The Big Short” tells the story of a number of men who saw The Great Recession of 2007 coming and cashed in on it.
As best as I can explain it (and trust me, I can’t), the financial meltdown that rocked the world’s economies in 2007 occurred in large part out of a belief that the housing market would never collapse, and so banks built up a big bubble of bad credit around mortgages. If the bubble burst — which it wouldn’t because no one ever defaults on their mortgage — then the economy would go in the toilet.
Did that make sense? Selena Gomez could explain it better.
Some people did see the disaster that was coming. One was Michael Burry (Christian Bale), a doctor who went into finance because he had a gift with numbers. Twitchy and suffering from Asperger’s Syndrome, Burry sees the trends and invests all his clients money into betting against the housing market — against the wishes of his biggest financial backer.
Also ahead of the curve is hedge fund manager Mark Baum (Steve Carell). When trader Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling) meets with Baum and his small team to express his beliefs, the group is skeptical. But after doing their own investigation, the often volatile Baum is first to fall in line.
The final players in this drama are a pair of young entrepreneurs ((Finn Wittrock and John Magaro), who want to get in on the action but can’t get a seat at the big boys’ table. To do so they will have to rely on help from their mentor, former investor Ben Rickert (Brad Pitt). Rickert is the only laid-back person in the group and he isn’t crazy about the implications of what will happen to the country if he and his former students are right.
“The Big Short” takes a complicated subject and tries to break it down into digestible chunks. At times the action stops so that “experts” like Margot Robbie in a bubble bath or chef Anthony Bourdain can explain various financial terms. It’s not always helpful but it’s usually amusing.
The movie boasts a terrific ensemble, highlighted by Bale and Carell. Carell is especially engrossing as a man who seems always about to blow, and whose fuse just gets shorter and shorter the more he learns.
“The Big Short” will entertain you and frustrate you. It will make you laugh and make you mad. It will make you want to punch somebody on Wall Street in the face. And what more can you want from a holiday movie?