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2 reviews, 1 rating

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Money Monster
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by Jaycie

"Bernie bro vs. Clinton bundler. Nobody wins."
2 stars

It's difficult for me to review this movie without going on a long, long rant about how anyone who a) invests their life savings in a single stock, no matter how angelic the company is, and b) does so based on a tip from a TV show is a class-A moron. But, as any such TV show SHOULD tell you, this review is strictly informational in nature and is not intended as personal financial advice.

So, permit me to inform you that Money Monster is an inadequately thrilling thriller in which a trigger-happy loser progresses from anti-hero to martyr, and a well-heeled Jim Cramer expy learns absolutely nothing. This is Jodie Foster's first directorial effort since 2011 flop The Beaver, starring Mel Gibson, of all people. While she at least had the good sense this time to cast a lead actor who people still respect, she hasn't found a premise whose central conceit isn't mind-bendingly stupid since 1995's Home for the Holidays, which was simply trite and overtired. According to IMDb, she is rumored to be helming a TV movie in which a woman rescues a dog she believes is the reincarnation of her mother. Pass the Haldol.

While Money Monster isn't a desperate cry for antipsychotics, the whole thing hinges on the fact that one of its leads is the world's dumbest investor. That would be Kyle Budwell (Jack O'Connell), a Queens-born schlub who sneaks onto the set of the titular finance show in which host Lee Gates (George Clooney) wears silly costumes and dances hip-hop poorly in between doling out hot stock tips, like Jim Cramer with half the dignity. It seems Lee has spent the past few episodes talking up Ibis Clear Capital, which has just lost $800 million due to a "glitch," and Kyle isn't buying that excuse. So, armed with a gun and a suicide vest, he demands that Lee demand answers from incommunicado Ibis CEO Walt Camby (Dominic West). The cameras are rolling all the while and the world is transfixed, and it's up to long-suffering director Patty Fenn (Julia Roberts) to satisfy Kyle, get information out of clueless Ibis PR hack Diane Lester (Caitriona Balfe), and get her team out of this alive.

There's considerably more talent in front of the cameras than behind them. O'Connell is an enormously convincing dumbass, and can almost make you feel sorry for him in some of his lower-key moments. Clooney and Roberts are as reliable as ever, although Roberts ends up looking better simply for not being caught dead in a sparkly gold top hat. (Why, George?) West, however, cannot overcome the fact that his character is so one-dimensionally evil that his name might as well have been named Douchey McDoucheface. The standout of the group is Emily Meade as Kyle's girlfriend Molly, who delivers the most epic reason-you-suck speech since the finale of The Thick of It. I'm so over Clooney and Roberts; this girl deserves more work.

She's one of the few people involved who do. There's a germ of an interesting idea here: that a TV crew can do a better job of defusing a hostage situation on their own set than the police. Unfortunately, Foster can never settle on which of the many themes on display is the important one. Is it the crew? Is it the quest for the truth behind the glitch? Is it Kyle's screw-ups? Is it Lee's efforts to learn empathy for the less advantaged? Is it the working relationship between Lee and Patty? All of these never quite mesh together as they should, and the awkward pacing that ensues does more to lower the tension on set than what the characters are actually doing. Worse, that tension is constantly broken with random comedic moments, as if the screenwriters had seen The Big Short the day before and decided to imitate its style at the last minute. Mission not accomplished.

Money Monster is a decent enough popcorn flick for people who don't care that much about investing. Skip it if you find yourself tempted to sit Kyle down and extol the virtues of total market ETFs. Or, for that matter, if you know what a total market ETF is. This is not the movie for you.

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originally posted: 05/16/16 11:07:06
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User Comments

8/14/16 Langano Promising opening but fizzled out at the end. 3 stars
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  13-May-2016 (R)
  DVD: 06-Sep-2016


  DVD: 06-Sep-2016

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