This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labour of the writers and actors currently on strike, the movie/series/feature being covered here wouldn't exist.
"Dumb Money boasts a superb cast, sharp stylistic choices and balances the personal and business lives of those involved."
BY JACK RANSOM SEPTEMBER 25, 2023
Dumb Money sees Keith Gill (Paul Dano), a regular guy who starts it all by sinking his life savings into GameStop stock. When his social media posts start blowing up, so does his life and the lives of everyone following him. As a stock tip becomes a movement, everyone gets wealthy -- until the billionaires fight back and both sides find their worlds turned upside down.
When it comes to the stock market, the extent of my knowledge is The Wolf of Wall Street and now Dumb Money. In all honesty, I struggle to understand it: the myriad of graphs, numbers, percentages and constant wired intensity of those involved gives me a headache. Thankfully (for the most part) this is something that director Craig Gillespie realises, and the film spends significant time with the personal lives of a handful of those wrapped up in Roaring Kitty’s revolution.
This is paced incredibly well and zips along its 100 minute runtime with ease. You do get the sense that elements have been sliced out (mostly some of the darker repercussions of the movement) and the focus on a myriad of characters can lead it to feeling a little stretched thin. However, the punk rock attitude, bitingly sharp (and funny) screenplay keep it racing along.
Darting between: two students (Myha’la Herrold & Talia Ryder), a GameStop employee (Anthony Ramos), a single mum nurse (America Ferrera) as they tensely hold their stock for the chance at life changing dollars, Gill’s family (Pete Davidson, Shailene Woodley, Clancy Brown & Kate Burton) dealing with the loss of their sister/daughter and Keith’s online rise and the billionaires feeling the sting of the Reddit community (Seth Rogen, Vincent D’Onofrio, Nick Offerman and Sebastian Stan). It sounds like a lot, and at times it is, yet the whirlwind tension and hyperactivity of those involved is near impossible to get caught up in.
Stylistically this ticks off a lot of the familiar beats of this sub-genre: montages, spliced screens, integration of real footage and facts on screen… it’s all here, but works effectively. This played out throughout 2020-21, so very much still prime COVID pandemic era and the film recaptures that (still fresh and somewhat still ongoing) time of all our lives very naturally and effectively.
This is an all-star cast line-up and everyone is locked into the wired nature of it all. Dano almost role reverses his portrayal of The Riddler in The Batman. With his loveable, positive ‘man of the people’ rallying together of the people being a very engaging and watchable presence. Pete Davidson is continually proving himself to be a top comedic talent and his immature snark is more than fitting here. Rogen, D’Onofrio, Offerman and Stan effortlessly flit between greedy cockiness and twitchy paranoia when things begin to go south for them. America Ferrera and Anthony Ramos are easily rootable, with the latter having to face the piercing, uppity snootiness of Dane DeHaan’s extended cameo as a GameStop manager.
Dumb Money is an entertaining, fast paced, witty and pacey watch. Boasting a superb cast, sharp stylistic choices and balances the personal and business lives of those involved. It does take a little bit of time to find its feet, can feel jumpy at points and certainly ticks off many familiar traits and tropes.