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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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CineHawk review: ‘Dumb Money’

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GRAPHIC: SADIE HENZES ’24 /THE HAWK

Based on Ben Mezrich’s “The Antisocial Network,” “Dumb Money” is the hilariously uplifting dramatization of the 2021 GameStop short squeeze. Directed by Craig Gillespie and written by Lauren Schuker Blum and Rebecca Angelo, the film stars Paul Dano, Pete Davidson, Nick Offerman, Vincent D’Onofrio, Olivia Thirlby, America Ferrera, Shailene Woodley, Sebastian Stan and Seth Rogen. It is currently playing exclusively in theaters.

Taking place in the latter half of 2020 and early 2021, the story follows part-time internet stock investor Keith Gill, played by Dano, whose family is reeling from pandemic-induced hardships. Looking to provide for his newborn daughter and his wife Caroline, played by Woodley, Gill takes a chance on GameStop, providing a glowing stock analysis to his growing audience. When the stock price experiences a meteoric rise, a conniving trio of hedge fund CEOs, played by Offerman, Rogen and D’Onofrio, scramble to protect their lucrative bets on GameStop’s downfall.

For a film called “Dumb Money,” the screenplay is incredibly respectful of the audience’s knowledge. Even for those in the audience less financially informed, Blum and Angelo’s screenplay organically clarifies necessary information about the stock market and confidently pushes forward without devolving into over-explanation. A stride made all the easier by an instantly compelling cast of characters.

Dano’s performance sells Keith as a common man and savvy investor who gradually grows into the responsibility of leading an unlikely movement. Though Caroline’s character is slightly underdeveloped, Woodley is nevertheless a figure of consistent strength and support. Of the various members of the short squeeze movement, Ferrera stands out as the struggling nurse Jenny, whose quest to pull herself out of massive debt is a perpetual reminder of the human costs of the hedge funders’ machinations.

The underdog heroes are complemented by painfully privileged villains. Rogen remains a comedic powerhouse as Gabe Plotkin, channeling a loathsome frat boy with unexpected humanity, bolstered by his vulnerable interactions with his wife Yaara, played by Thirlby. Meanwhile, Stan’s Vlad Tenev has such effective charisma that even viewers who know his story will be lulled into a false sense of security.

“Dumb Money” is a smart, funny and topical biopic that reminds us that power is always with the people.

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