Review of Dumb Money

Dumb Money
Dumb Money
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Dumb Money has a lot of explaining to do. This comedy, like The Big Short about the housing bubble in the 2000s, should take time and explain exactly what happened when eight million Redditors decided to send the stock for a dying “brick and mortar” company “to the moon,” but in a way that would make sense even to people who don’t know anything about stocks. The mechanics of all this, without all the other reddit terms -tendies, apes, diamond hands- are tricky. With this in mind, director Craig Gillespie has to spend sizeable part of his movie explaining what is really happening and who these people are. Fortunately, many real-life specifics are just downright ridiculous which is suitable for a movie as disrespectful as this one.

Dumb Money wastes no time exploring why Keith Gill (Paul Dano), aka Roaring Kitty, and his online followership decided to screw over Wall Street by investing in a struggling video-game retailer. At this point not even hedge fund guys need much explanation regarding how much the average person despises hedge fund guys- they are like modern-day robber barons. And from the opening scene where Melvin Capital Management executive Gabe Plotkin (Seth Rogen) races through an abandoned mansion en route to take a Zoom call with colleagues, they were cast as villains right away. Late at night his firm has just lost few billions and now Gabe needs to say something about it.

That said we flashback seven months later back to when Gill began sharing his enthusiasm for GameStop on r/wallstreetbets subreddit and making plans on buying its shares in mid-2020. “I just like the stock,” he deadpans with that affectation so beloved by denizens of Twitter but largely incomprehensible elsewhere on earth. He’s kidding except he isn’t kidding; he means something serious about being completely unserious. Similarly, Dumb Money adopts such an approach combining sincere David-and-Goliath sentiment with gags about TikTok, DoorDash, and not knowing which one of Warren Buffet or Jimmy Buffet is.

Some of the funniest moments in this film come from Keith’s brother Kevin (Pete Davidson who is misplaced as Dano’s sibling but otherwise fits like a glove), a slacker whose job delivering takeout food on his bicycle in Brockton, Massachusetts involves stealing fries from customer orders. (The accents in this movie are heavy with Masshole, sometimes ridiculous, but again – it’s that kind of film.) On the other hand Keith’s wife Caroline (Shailene Woodley) is always there for him and if there is any dark side to Roaring Kitty, it isn’t shown here.

Instead, Dumb Money does this by examining who these participants are and what happened to them through a few unrelated characters who all believe in the cause. For example, there’s Jennifer (America Ferrera), who works at a hospital and goes by the online moniker StonkMom; Marcus (Anthony Ramos), an employee of GameStop who despises his boss but loves the company; and Harmony (Talia Ryder) as well as Riri (Myha’la Herrold), college roommates at UT Austin whose entire dormitory becomes swept up in Roaring Kitty mania. Essentially they are motivated by both monetary interests and a rebellious instinct against authorities: They would want to make money too, but it would be cool if they could also get back at some billionaires.

Dumb Money highlights the vast difference between these regular people and the rich jerks who thought little of them by displaying each character’s net worth on screen when introducing them. The number for Ken Griffin (Nick Offerman), Citadel LLC’s powerful financier is $36.9 billion; for Harmony, a student from a poor family feeling weighted down with loans, it reads $-186,451. This difference also extends to their joys and troubles: Keith and Caroline have craft beers in their fridge while Robinhood CEOs Vlad Tenev (Sebastian Stan) and Baiju Bhatt (Rushi Kota) throw lavish parties that are profitable because they know nothing about business apart from talking using fancy language.

For Dumb Money which is two years behind events it describes, its time frame is specifically evoked in an unexpected way through loud needle drops of hip-hop music that includes favourite Megan Thee Stallion songs as well as characters repeatedly asking one another politely to pull up their masks in order to reduce virus transmission.(COVID-19 marks every film it touches but at least here, it was deliberate). This movie has many memes montages which may become boring after four or five of them. But it does record the voice and tone of a particular Internet sub-culture at some point in history – when Elon Musk had never bought Twitter as shown by his face whenever his name is on the screen.

The internet moves fast. Glillespie is just as fast. The Dumb Money director employs a flashy style also seen in his breakout film, I,Tonya, where he jumps between scenes with rhythmic repetition and a manic pace that brings visual excitement to an almost fully online story. Still, even if the plot has always been known, having a large cast of familiar faces keeps things interesting. At last Goliath wins every time. So you might as well have some lulz along the way.


Dumb Money offers an irreverent depiction of the GameStop short squeeze from January 2021 that suggests this recent past era graphically. It idolizes Keith Gill (Paul Dano), alias Roaring Kitty, and his followers without question—but it’s easy to be a good guy when your opponents are hedge fund managers.

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