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Overall Rating

Awesome: 22.96%
Worth A Look48.15%
Average: 25.93%
Pretty Bad: 1.48%
Total Crap: 1.48%

13 reviews, 57 user ratings

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Boiler Room
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by Rob Gonsalves

"A great, fast little ride."
5 stars

Should a movie be slammed for being derivative if it wears its influences on its sleeve -- if it even goes so far as to cite its influences within its own scenes and dialogue? It depends. "Swingers," for instance, struck me as a shallow film importing quotes from "Reservoir Dogs" and "GoodFellas" simply so that we'd recognize them and feel hip. "Boiler Room" is another story.

The barking young stockbrokers in Boiler Room, an energizing and confident debut by writer-director Ben Younger, have seen Oliver Stone's Wall Street and the film version of David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross. They didn't get the message of those movies, though; all they took away was the romance of greed, the giddy avarice of the decade of conspicuous consumption.

Our young hero here is Seth Davis (Giovanni Ribisi), who ditched college after a year and runs a thriving backroom casino out of his apartment. One night, an old friend (Jamie Kennedy) comes to Seth's casino with an acquaintance: Greg (Nicky Katt), a brooding stockbroker for a small firm on Long Island. Seduced by the promise of quick money, and looking for a way to win the approval of his hard-nosed father (Ron Rifkin), Seth easily buys into the firm's spiel. Soon enough, he's on the phone getting investors to buy into it, too.

Boiler Room is a skillful and convincing rise-and-fall story. When Seth is hired as a trainee broker and sits in the hectic office learning the ropes, we're fascinated the way we always are: I admire movies that pause and tell me exactly how things work. There are scenes in which Seth rattles off paragraphs of insider gibberish over the phone; sometimes it sounds like abstract white-boy hip-hop, while other times you surprise yourself by actually understanding what he's saying, based on the bits and pieces of inside info you've picked up.

Ben Younger has an easy way with dialogue, both in and out of the office. The macho pissing contests are inspired by Mamet, of course, but they have a uniquely late-'90s spin: Younger nails the comedy of rich white guys talking like gang-bangers, calling each other "nigga" and "bitch." The scenes between Seth and Abbie (Nia Long), a secretary at the firm, have an intelligent intimacy; the people in this movie (except when lying on the phone for their living) communicate with a sharp directness -- Younger packs a lot into a few words. Best of all, perhaps, are Ben Affleck's handful of scenes as the firm's recruiter; Younger obviously had fun rewriting Alec Baldwin's classic speech in Glengarry, and Affleck, locking in on each sentence like a tailgunner, takes such pleasure in the homage that only a grouch could really object to it as a swipe. (Part of the joke is that Affleck's character knows it's a swipe, as does everyone else in the room.)

As he proved in Saving Private Ryan and subUrbia, Giovanni Ribisi is an interesting, low-key presence; you never catch him acting, or trying too hard for our approval. That's why the subplot involving his distant dad, with its facile attendant psychobabble about Seth's childhood bike accident, is a bit of a bummer. Ribisi doesn't seem the type to care what his dad or anyone else thinks, and in at least one scene, when Seth falls apart in front of his father, the actor falters. Despite Ron Rifkin's crisp, entertaining performance as the father, I would've liked to see more scenes between Seth and Abbie, or between Seth and his two competing father figures at the firm, Greg and Chris (Vin Diesel), who squabble over his loyalty.

In the end, of course, Seth sees the error of his ways; the movie pauses every so often to put a human face on those on the other end of Seth's manipulations, and we feel a twinge of shame because we've been enjoying Seth's games and scams. There's one classic scene in which Seth, by now an experienced hustler, bullies a telemarketer into making a better sales pitch to him.

That's the real triumph of "Boiler Room": It catches us taking pleasure in these scams that destroy lives, then shows us the human cost -- yet still doesn't deny that when these guys are hot and on a roll, they're riding a high better than anything else they've experienced. Money is almost just a perk: it's really about the flamboyant theater of closing the deal.

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originally posted: 12/28/06 10:47:27
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User Comments

12/29/17 morris campbell wall street 4 generation x 4 stars
6/10/06 William Goss 118 ways to sell bullshit and be a yuppie asshole. Meh. 3 stars
5/01/06 R.W.Welch Maybe a tad overdone but at least it's off the beaten path. 4 stars
12/14/05 Indrid Cold Cheesy but good ripoff of "Glengarry" and "Wall Street", both of which it quotes openly. 4 stars
4/18/05 Vince Ribisi totally rocked in this. All in all a solid effort, worth seeing. 4 stars
3/20/05 Tay Great film 4 stars
7/30/04 M If it wasnt for Vin this movie would go down hill.... fast! 4 stars
6/23/04 eivind it's good 4 stars
6/21/04 Rock Hound convinced me to open my own casino 3 stars
5/21/04 Sales God A fresh spin on an old idea. yeah its derivitive but well acted and executed (except Affle 4 stars
4/23/04 sealy Film was great, very fast, great stuff. Could have had more of a ending. 5 stars
2/22/04 s smith Premise is skewed, but characterizations are strong, sad thinly veiled lives. 4 stars
12/25/03 breadman DON"T pitch the bitch. I don't care if Nancy Sinatra calls. 5 stars
12/25/03 Tiffani Boiler Room is cool. It's Just so cool....The testosterone flows beautifully 5 stars
10/14/03 PJ Ribisi is the shit quit bangin on this film, great work by Ben Younger 5 stars
6/16/03 Boiler room guy I wish there were more movies like this. So real and yet not overdone 5 stars
6/09/03 R.W. Welch Stock scam pic has an authentic feel to it and is adeptly acted. Sort of educational too. 4 stars
3/03/03 Jack Sommersby Pretty involving until it piles on the contrivances. Vin Diesel is a standout. 2 stars
11/26/02 Stephen X - EXCELLENT - X 5 stars
10/27/02 MarktheShark6 The way they inserted Wall Street into the film revealed its roots, but it was good anyway. 4 stars
9/04/02 movie guy A GREAT FILM 5 stars
7/27/02 Matt Crav Fuck Vin. Well, hes awesome, but Ribisi is great. Inspirational flick. This movie is great. 5 stars
7/10/02 Interrog8 Great film! Provides a genuine look at the late-90's stock market greed 5 stars
2/19/02 alicia morris any movie with vin in it is worth watching! 4 stars
1/30/02 jessica fowler it's my favorite movie...great acting by everyone! 5 stars
1/18/02 Chrisaidis Georgia It was really cool, not to say for Vin Diesel he is really sexy. 4 stars
11/27/01 Kathleen Greene The only thing that makes this movie viewable is VIN DIESEL. 4 stars
11/25/01 Senor Pescolido Ya know, i really wanted to like it, but it was far too clean and cliche. 3 stars
9/02/01 Butterbean Vin and Ben were hot. The part where they were watching "Wall Street" was stupid. 3 stars
7/31/01 Robert Vin is the man 5 stars
7/15/01 NasTKasT My Favorite Flic of ALL Time. Very pimp movie! 5 stars
6/30/01 such a good movie, def worth watching :) 4 stars
6/17/01 Dominique Dixon Parts with Vin Deisel in it were the only ones worth looking at. Racist jokes sucked!!! 4 stars
3/23/01 Yanick Forget Very good movie, great acting. 5 stars
3/16/01 Gideon If you dont see it you are missing out on a tight ass movie! 5 stars
2/28/01 Soggy Bottom Boy All the ingredients are there: good concept, great actors; they could have done more w/it. 3 stars
2/20/01 joh rich, young white guys use the word fuck a lot. Deisel is a damn cool actor 4 stars
10/31/00 Matt Redmond You do not deserve to review movies. 5 stars
10/05/00 Jed An alright movie funny though a bit laughable. 4 stars
10/02/00 Robin Hot men in suits! Ben Affleck is a major ++++ 5 stars
9/26/00 Sully Ben Affleck is the worst actor of our generation. movie starts fine, ends terrible. 3 stars
9/02/00 jetcat repulsive display of greed and too-skinny men; compelling nonetheless 4 stars
8/02/00 Jed I may need a 2nd viewing but overall it was alright. 3 stars
7/28/00 Davis Intelligent, doesn't pull any punches. Ribisi is a perfect hero. Best Movie of the Year 5 stars
7/18/00 Monday Morning Great drama with comic balance, outstanding characters & dialogue. Ribisi bugged me, tho'. 4 stars
3/24/00 malcolm Nia Long was worth price of admission. Diesel and Affleck kicked ass. 4 stars
3/13/00 Chartsy Giovanni, you've come a long way since My Two Dads, baby! 5 stars
3/13/00 Jim NOT relevant to today's stock market: Internet, online, Wall St. Ben shot cameos in 1 day. 1 stars
3/04/00 jill Ben Affleck can suck my ass. 1 stars
2/27/00 Malbert Pretty cool, I liked it a lot 4 stars
2/25/00 Ben Ryan Worth watching just so you can see the stupidity. 2 stars
2/25/00 Allan Vogt Filthiest soundtrack ever. The secretary was worth the $9.50. Good audience interaction. 3 stars
2/23/00 Charles "Fight Club" in reverse. Loved the secretary! 3 stars
2/22/00 Alexis good acting and a plot that moved along at a brisk pace 5 stars
2/21/00 Jason Kallelis Damn good! Good acting and the plot can suck you in. 4 stars
2/20/00 frank some quality acting, but an average story line 3 stars
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  18-Feb-2000 (R)
  DVD: 04-Mar-2014

  05-May-2000 (15)

  12-Oct-2000 (M)

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