Biography Comedy

The Roaring Kitty of Wall Street: A TIFF Review of ‘Dumb Money’

September 8, 2023Ben MK

One of the most talked-about stories to come out of the pandemic, the saga of the subreddit known as WallStreetBets has captured the attention of studios, streaming platforms and filmmakers almost as much as the pandemic itself. From Diamond Hands: The Legend of WallStreetBets to Eat the Rich: The GameStop Saga, the number of documentaries and series detailing the unexpected rise in the price of GameStop stock that was fuelled by a relatively small group of retail investors continues to grow. And now, with Dumb Money, director Craig Gillespie is bringing the David-versus-Goliath tale to the big screen, in the first feature about the biggest stock market news story of 2021.

Starring Paul Dano as Keith Gill (aka Roaring Kitty), the movie follows Keith, his beleaguered wife Caroline (Shailene Woodley) and his unemployed brother Kevin (Pete Davidson), as the financial analyst and recreational YouTuber sees his unorthodox thesis about the value of GameStop stock embraced by the WallStreetBets community. After buying some $50,000 worth of the stock and watching his investment skyrocket, Keith's financial strategy begins to draw the ire of major hedge fund players like Melvin Capital Management founder Gabe Plotkin (Seth Rogen) and Citadel Securities founder Ken Griffin (Nick Offerman), while also earning him celebrity status and a loyal following from fellow 99-percenters like single mother of two Jenny (America Ferrera), in-debt college students Harmon (Talia Ryder) and Riri (Myha'la Herrold), and broke GameStop employee Marcus (Anthony Ramos). But will the old adage "what goes up must come down" prove to be both Keith's and GameStop's stock price's downfall? Or will Wall Street finally sit up, take notice and change its unscrupulous and unfair ways?

Much like 2015's The Big Short, the result reframes recent history as comedy drama, as Gillespie and screenwriters Lauren Schuker Blum, Rebecca Angelo and Ben Mezrich recount the general timeline of events that transformed GameStop from one of the most mocked corporations in America to the company at the center of a stock market revolution. What Dumb Money lacks in comparison to Adam McKay's similarly-themed Oscar-winner, however, is a desire to delve deep into the why and how of the circumstances that inspired it. And while that makes it considerably less enlightening than the various films and shows about WallStreetBets that have come before, there's one thing that's for certain — the GameStop saga has never been more entertaining.

Dumb Money screens under the Gala Presentations programme at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival. Its runtime is 1 hr. 44 min.

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