Movie review: ‘Money Monster’ a stirring look at the global economy
–It’s getting impossible to ignore that our economy is out of alignment. By most accounts, we have the largest income inequality in our country since The Great Depression, and people in the middle and lower classes are feeling it.
That comes on the heels of years of questions about the validity of the stock market and the house of cards upon which our economy is built. In the wake of the burst housing bubble in 2008 we’ve seen dozens of books and films about how it happened, and how it might happen again. Just last winter “The Big Short” was a film that earned a Best Picture nomination and posited that we are on the verge of another economic collapse.
It’s into that frenzied state of confusion, anger and angst that “Money Monster” appears. It’s a film about a popular financial show host who is taken hostage by a disgruntled investor that got wiped out by a market “correction.” But mostly it’s a story about the little guys wanting answers about how the economy really works, and taking drastic means to get it.
It also might be one of the best films of the year so far.
“Money Monster” centers on Lee Gates (George Clooney), a popular host of a financial network show who is known for making bold, brash proclamations about what stocks are “sure things.” He’s also known for shying away from the hard questions when it comes to finding out more about the shell game he’s promoting.
His long-time producer, Patty Fenn (Julia Roberts), is tired of playing the game and is about to depart for another post where she might to “real journalism” again. But first she has to get through a Friday show, which proves harder than anyone imagined.
In the middle of a live broadcast Gates is taken hostage by Kyle Budwell (Jack O’Connell), a blue collar guy who lost everything when a computer glitch wiped out $800 million worth of investments in a company Gates implied was safer than a savings account.
Budwell wants Gates to answer for his reckless corporate promotion, but more than that he wants answers from the company’s CEO, Walt Camby (Dominic West). That leads Gates and Patty down a rabbit hole and into a bigger story.
“Money Monster” might be an extreme kind of story, but it certainly resonates with the anger and searching of the average American. We’re not far removed from the Occupy Wall Street movement, and it seems every day more Americans are asking hard questions about what really happens on Wall Street. There’s a potential in this film to ask those harder political questions, but it only goes so far.
“Money Monster,” which is directed by Jodie Foster, asks some questions about what happens in our economy and why TV personalities are content to take the PR spin as fact without probing deeper. And those are valid arguments. But the film doesn’t offer any real solutions, but rather settles for getting people thinking.
It’s also got a fascinating story bolstered by some great performances. It is entertaining and engaging, delivering some satisfying moments even while following a somewhat predictable plot formula. That’s a credit to Foster’s direction and her ability to tell and engaging story that touches on a nerve in current American society.
She’s also blessed to have a cast led by Clooney and Roberts, both of whom deliver fine performances. This is a more esteemed cast than you typically expect in a summer movie release, which is what makes “Money Monster” a gem this time of year.
The film has a good story, strong performances, a solid visual look and a good pace. It’s 50 minutes shorter than “Captain America: Civil War,” and you feel that as it keeps you hooked all the way through. It makes you think, but not at the expense of being entertaining, which is a rare gift. To this point, it’s one of the best releases in 2016 and well worth checking out.
“Money Monster” has been rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America for language throughout, some sexuality and brief violence. Enter with caution.
Four stars out of four.