scorecard'Dumb Money,' the movie based on the 2021 GameStop trading frenzy, comes up short
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'Dumb Money,' the movie based on the 2021 GameStop trading frenzy, comes up short

Dan DeFrancesco   

'Dumb Money,' the movie based on the 2021 GameStop trading frenzy, comes up short
Finance2 min read
  • This post originally appeared in the Insider Today newsletter.

When individual investors sent shares of so-called meme stocks skyrocketing in early 2021, putting billion-dollar hedge funds on their heels, one thing seemed obvious: This would make a helluva movie.

More than two years later, we get to see for ourselves.

"Dumb Money," which opens for a wide release today, navigates the lead-up, peak, and aftermath of the GameStop short-squeeze, which led short-sellers to lose billions of dollars.

Full disclosure: I was critical of how the movie was cast. But I went into a recent viewing wanting to like "Dumb Money." I'm fascinated by Hollywood's interpretation of finance, from "The Wolf of Wall Street" and "Margin Call" to "The Big Short."

"Dumb Money" is a classic David-vs-Goliath tale.

The movie's main protagonist is Keith Gill (Paul Dano), who sparked interest in GameStop with Reddit posts and YouTube videos detailing his investment thesis under the pseudonyms "DeepFuckingValue" and "Roaring Kitty."

(Like I said, the script practically writes itself.)

The film also follows a series of characters — a pair of college students, a nurse, and a GameStop employee — who invest in GameStop along with Gill, hoping to make money and stick it to the Wall Street firms betting against the company.

Their inclusion is a smart device — the GameStop saga was a community-led movement — but feels underutilized. While Gill was the engine of the short squeeze, individual investors fueled him. A piece of the story falls flat without some meaningful development from them.

And then there's the movie's antagonists. The depiction of hedge fund managers Ken Griffin (Nick Offerman), Steve Cohen (Vincent D'Onofrio), and Gabe Plotkin (Seth Rogen), whose firm's GameStop short position put it in Reddit traders' crosshairs, came across as too over-the-top and cartoonish.

That's not a defense of them. God knows they don't need my help. Griffin reportedly raised hell over his portrayal in the movie.

But if satire was the direction the movie wanted — à la "The Wolf of Wall Street" — it should have pushed harder. Instead, Gill's stoner brother (Pete Davidson) has to carry the comedy load, but most of his jokes come up short.

What's left is a somewhat mediocre movie that's neither too serious nor too funny.

So, to tweak a phrase made famous by Gill: For me, I don't like the movie.




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