Monday, December 28, 2015
Review: The Big Short (2015)
'The Big Short': An Unconventional Yet Rewarding Look At The Economic Crisis
Only the director of films like Anchorman and The Other Guys could get me to be invested in a film about economics. Only Adam McKay could.
The Big Short follows the true story of the 2007-10 economic crisis and a small group of bankers who foresaw the outcome and invested in it.
I'll start off by discussing the writing by both Charles Randolph and Adam McKay. While the film has typical economical mumbo-jumbo that most viewers might not understand, the script still plays to McKay's traditional comedic strengths. While this isn't as much of a farce as The Other Guys or Anchorman, there is still plenty of humor to be found like how they get cameos from people like Margot Robbie who explains economics while taking a bubble bath and sipping champagne. There are also plenty of complex characterizations to be found. You have characters that try to fight the big banks yet might have to stoop to their level as well as those that profit from other people's losses to provide for their own firm. Randolph and McKay really capture the grayness of the economic world.
I also loved the rather spontaneous editing by Hank Corwin and how he uses techniques like having the characters break the fourth wall and incorporating snippets of celebrity culture or music videos to capture the tone of each event. For example, when Michael Burry, played by Christian Bale, tries to bet against the housing market and meets with different banks, the song "Money Maker" by Ludacris starts playing and we see snippets of the music video and clips of money pouring and such. Thanks to Corwin's spontaneous editing, the film is able to maintain a similar tone throughout of colorful flare mixed with humanistic drama.
Next, I'll get into the acting. This is very much an ensemble film where all actors manage to bring their A-game. I loved Christian Bale as the aloof, heavy metal-jamming economist Michael Burry, Ryan Gosling as hotshot investor Jared Vennett, as well as Steve Carell, who I thought was the standout as Mark Baum, a trader who is mad at the world and stubbornly wants to fight the big banks who he feels are greedy. Honestly, I would say he is even better here than in his Oscar-nominated turn in Foxcatcher.
Overall, The Big Short is a masterfully done take on the economic crisis that potently mixes comical tendencies with heartfelt humanistic characterizations. It is enjoyable to watch yet it will also have you engaging in discussions by the time the credits roll.