If you look back at when the COVID-19 pandemic happened, you’ll remember how awkward and dull it was for everyone. Because people were stuck at home trying to remain safe from the ongoing health crisis, there was a lot of time to waste on various things. For some, it was an opportunity to try something new and pick up new skills. But for others, it was a wild time on the internet for one reason or another. It was in this timeframe that the crazy GameStop short squeeze took the news by storm, causing a lot of headaches for people in Wall Street and tons of memes to pop up online. This is the story that Dumb Money covers, using the real events that took place as a basis to look back and laugh at how crazy things got during the pandemic.
Dumb Money follows what happened when GameStop stock rose to astronomical heights after people on the subreddit r/wallstreetbets triggered a short squeeze. Groups of people began aggressively buying stock through the application Robinhood. Things started after a man named Keith Gill, known online as Roaring Kitty purchased a large amount of GameStop stock and discussed it on videos for YouTube. While large hedge fund investment firms were short-selling the stock, people began buying into GameStop shares, causing the prices of it to rise very fast and costing the firms millions of dollars. The financial consequences get national attention and draw the ire of the United States House Committee, which puts Keith in the middle of a massive struggle between the large companies of Wall Street and the common person trying to get by.
What Dumb Money tries to point out is how careless many of the large entities that thrive in places like Wall Street often forget that the general public can get one over on them. Much of the reason why the GameStop short squeeze caused so much panic among the hedge fund investment firms was how devastating the consequences were in such a short timeframe. Like what Keith says in the movie, and what the real Keith stated to congress in real life, was that anyone with a passing knowledge of investment banking would do the same thing. And how it’s all fair game, not just fair for the large firms with an easier time. It’s a very straightforward “little guy vs. big companies” type of story that actually played out in real life.
While the movie does take a lot of liberties with how exaggerated some things are portrayed, it’s still pretty faithful to the real events that happened. There’s a goofy humorous tone to the whole movie, which works out well with how absurd everything gets. The movie never becomes cartoonish, but definitely leans on how ridiculous some of these events and the reactions from everyone really were. Some scenes feature real social media posts that were shared during the time, which is a nice touch that can let everyone reflect on what it was like back then during the pandemic.
There are a surprising number of stars in Dumb Money. Paul Dano plays Keith Gill with Pete Davidson as his brother Kevin Gill. The two of them have some genuinely funny moments, some of which a juxtaposed with events that put Keith in a very tough spot during the craziness. Other characters that appear are mostly affected by Keith’s videos online, never fully interacting with him directly. For some, this will work in seeing the outward consequences of Keith’s videos, but not everyone will find them interesting.
Seth Rogan plays Gabe Plotkin, the founder of Melvin Captial Management who shuts down his firm after the GameStop incident. He doesn’t do much in the film but is able to show the attitude that some on Wall Street had towards GameStop before the short squeeze. Their outlook on everything quickly changes when the GameStop situation has major consequences for him, right up to the subpoena from Congress. America Ferrera plays a nurse who watches Keith’s videos online, following his tips and buying into GameStop stock. She’s probably the only person in the film who loses money and doesn’t come out rich, unlike everyone else who buys in.
Anthony Ramos is a GameStop employee who struggles at his job and gets into the stock with hopes of getting a better life. And finally, Talia Ryder and Myha’la Herrold are a college couple who are fans of Keith’s videos and buy into GameStop stock. Their story is probably the weakest of the bunch, which feels like it can be cut out entirely and not much will be different with the film.
Each of the side stories feels as if the movie can get sidetracked at times, despite showing the various consequences of how the GameStop short squeeze affected different people. The statements that Keith and the Robinhood co-founders to the United States House Committee on Financial Services are the most significant outcome of the entire situation. Those scenes use actual footage from those meetings stitched together with those of the actors, with the epilogue of the film showing the actual video of their statements.
As a whole, Dumb Money is a decent film that snapshots a lot of the awkward and weird vibe that lingered during the pandemic. The real-life events that the movie is based on happened only a short time ago, so it may be a little weird to watch for some people who were tuned into what was going on. The very end of the film shows the epilogue for what happened to every character, with some ending up in a better place than others. There’s definitely a message in here about how you should never count the little guy out, but it might get lost in the shuffle for some. You won’t lose anything by watching Dumb Money, but you may not miss out on much if you decide to skip it.
What do you think of Dumb Money and the story it tells? Were you paying attention to some of the news during the GameStop short squeeze and r/wallstreetbets? Tell us your thoughts about everything down below in the comment section!
This movie covers real events in a faithful, but slightly exaggerated way. The jokes and awkward moments in some scenes will get a laugh out of some, but may just be awkward to others. Some of the side stories may feel as if they drag on and get away from the main plot, with a few being better than others. There’s a deeper message in here that may or may not be clear. The epilogue shows the outcome of the real events that took place.
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