Synopsis: The ultimate David vs. Goliath tale, based on the insane true story of everyday people who flipped the script on Wall Street and got rich by turning GameStop (yes, the mall videogame store) into the world’s hottest company.
Stars: Paul Dano, Pete Davidson, Vincent D’Onofrio, America Ferrera, Nick Offerman, Anthony Ramos, Sebastian Stan, Shailene Woodley, Seth Rogen
Director: Craig Gillespie
Running Length: 105 minutes
TMMM Score: (5/10)
Review: Though incredibly topical and current, surprisingly, Dumb Money may be the most unremarkable bauble of digestible studio entertainment I saw recently at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). Detailing the GameStop stock craze orchestrated by undervalued investors that shook up an unsuspecting Wall Street, it’s less flashy than similar examinations of financial coups (insert your chosen title here). Still, it lacks emotional tenterhooks to keep you fully engaged. You’ll forget you saw it 60 minutes after it ends.
Maybe part of my apathy toward Dumb Money is partly self-imposed. I fell prey to festival FOMO and sacrificed a screening of another film to see this, even though I knew it would be released mere days after TIFF ended. I spent much of the movie, which I should say again is resoundingly average, running through “what if” scenarios of better films I could have attended.
Director Craig Gillespie has previously demonstrated talent for taking a story we’re familiar with (I, Tonya) and creating entertainment through its dynamic characters. However, with Dumb Money, Gillespie is hampered by a flat screenplay from Lauren Schuker Blum, Rebecca Angelo, & Ben Mezrich that comes off like a book report of a Wikipedia page and performances that have individual moments of snap but fail to crackle when they mingle. So, while Paul Dano (The Fabelmans) is admirably notable in playing against type as the ringmaster of this circus, I almost wonder if the entire endeavor wouldn’t have worked better as a one-person performance piece.
Not that Gillespie hasn’t packed his film with several A-list talents (and Pete Davidson) to distract from the fact that the story is bereft of anything resembling tension or surprise. Already having a great year after delivering the monologue of all monologues in Barbie, America Ferrera (End of Watch) continues to establish herself as a late-breaking, reliable supporting actress. I’m afraid time is running out for Sebastian Stan (Fresh) to skate by on charmless performances, so it’s good Anthony Ramos (In the Heights) is present to take over the mantle. Even Seth Rogen (Sausage Party) and Nick Offerman (Lucy in the Sky) can’t make a case for themselves, going from the comedic heavies in previous films to the awkward straight men playing the stuffed shirt tycoons ransacked by Dano’s internet mafia.
Stuck in low gear from the beginning, I’m not sure who the audience for Dumb Money is supposed to be. Anyone with awareness to current events will feel this is a star-filled recreation of what we only recently lived through, and if you haven’t been keeping up, it’s unlikely what transpired will keep your attention in the first place. Be smart; spend your money elsewhere.