(director: Craig Gillespi; screenwriters: Lauren Schuker Blum, Rebecca Angelo, based on Ben Mezrich’s book The Antisocial Network; cinematographer: Nikolas Karakatsanis; editor: Kirk Baxter; music: Will Bates; cast: Paul Dano (Keith Gill), Pete Davidson (Kevin Gill), Vincent D’Onofrio (Steve Cohen), America Ferrara (Jenny), Nick Offerman (Ken Griffin), Anthony Ramos (Marcus Barcia), Sebastian Stan (Vlad Teney), Shailene Woodley (Caroline Gill), Seth Rogen (Gabe Plotkin), Dane DeHaan (Brad), Myha’la Herrold (Riri), Rushi Kota (Baiju Bhatt), Talia Ryder (Harmony Williams); Runtime: 104; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Aaron Ryder, Teddy Schwarzman, Craig Gillespie; A Sony Pictures Releasing release of a Columbia Pictures; 2023)

“Left me cold with its mostly one-dimensional supporting characters.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Fielding a too large ensemble cast to keep track of all the characters brings mostly confusion to the Craig Gillespi  (“Lars and the Real Girl”/”Million Dollar Arm”) directed true story on Wall Street. It’s about the 2021 GameStop stock phenomenon (the brick-and-mortar video-game outlet found mostly in malls) that was driven by individual investors through social media and rose from failure to success. It’s based on Ben Mezrich’s book The Antisocial Network and is written by Lauren Schuker Blum and Rebecca Angelo.

The story, set during the Covid pandemic, focuses on the small-time financial analyst, Keith Gill (Paul Dano), who lives and works for a financial company in Brockton, Mass. He touted GameStop stock on his YouTube videos and on his Reddit postings under the username “DeepFuckingValue.” The loser stock had been shorted by numerous hedge funds, including Melvin Capital head Gabe Plotkin (Seth Rogen), and loses billions for the big fellows as it rises in value for the little guys.

Keith’s enthusiasm for the stock reached the small investors, who made the stock rise dramatically on his recommendations. Incredibly Gill’s original $53,000 investment, his life savings, rose to $11 million. The rise in value brought in new investors and brought concern to financial giants such as Steve Cohen (Vincent D’Onofrio), Ken Griffin (Nick Offerman) and Vlad Temev (Sebastian Stan), whose trading app Robinhood played a pivotal role in the stock.

The story focuses on Keith’s family, his supportive wife (Shailene Woodley), underachieving funny-man brother (Pete Davidson) and confused parents (Kate Burton, Clancy Brown).

While the big boys are in disbelief, the small investors are trying to figure out when it’s best to sell or if they should keep the stock. The single-mother nurse (America Ferrera) is in that predicament, as are debt-ridden college students (Myha’la Herrold, Talia Ryder) and a loyal retail GameStop employee (Anthony Ramos).

I found the depiction of the combative but loving Gill brothers amusing, but the film left me cold with its mostly one-dimensional supporting characters. I also tuned-out all the vacuous reaction shots to the stock’s ups and downs that has the small investors cheering or jeering. Too much time was spent staring at computer screens. Though I think many viewers found it to be a satisfying feel-good story that the small fries for once beat the titans. But to call these guys heroic as rebel capitalists doesn’t sound right.

It played at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Pete Davidson and Paul Dano star in DUMB MONEY.
REVIEWED ON 9/10/2023  GRADE: C+