I will always be fascinated with movies about Wall Street because I used to work in the industry (and will probably even go back at some point) and I was excited to hear about “The Big Short,” which is based on Michael Lewis fascinating non-fiction book. Do we need another film about the housing market crash of 2008? There’s the excellent “Margin Call,” which explained Lehman Brother’s collapse, and earlier this year, 99 Homes (my thoughts here, ) dealt with a more personal look at the homeowners which caused it.
Adam McKay (he directed the Anchorman movies with Will Ferrell) starts off with a comic approach, drawing characters as almost cartoon-like characters – the metal head broker who wore flip flops, the neurotic New Yorker trader, zany investing BFFs – but, as things get more serious, we see these characters as more humanized versions of themselves. It all works great, thanks to great ensemble-piece acting by Christian Bale, Steve Carrell, and Finn Witrock, among others. I know and recognize these characters, based on my years of working in the industry. I have to make special mention of Brad Pitt, who lost himself in his character that I did not even realize it was him until after a couple of scenes. And I was pleasantly surprised by Ryan Gosling, who is fine here. (I have almost given up on him)
All in all, the film succeeds. It gives us a reason to root for the “good guys” her, though we ask ourselves if we should be rooting for these people who basically bet against the US economy. And it explains how it all happened to most folks who normally who would not take the time to understand how it did, and did it in a very entertaining manner.