Money Monster

Money Monster, starring George Clooney (as Lee Gates), Julia Roberts (as Patty Fenn), Jack O’Connell (as kidnapper, Kyle Budwell) and Dominic West (as Walt Camby) is about a member of the 1% (Camby) screwing over “the little guy,” and one “little guy” (Budwell) getting so mad about it, he’s not going to take it anymore.

Clooney plays a Mad Money’s Jim Cramer-type television host who offers stock market advice to viewers, with a whole lot of razzle-dazzle.  The show is conducted as if Lee doesn’t take money very seriously at all, making Lee somewhat of a caricature of himself.  Lee is a man who feels no connection to the people who watch his show, most of the people he works with; the women he’s been married to; not even to his own child, whose age he cannot correctly recall – so he is terrific at putting on a show, even when he’s not on the air.

Lee does, however, connect (after he’s done being a smart ass and begins to listen to the guy) with Kyle; the man who takes him hostage during a live broadcast.  Kyle is a disgruntled viewer who got a “bad” stock tip from Lee which caused him to lose money.  This loss is “the straw” in a long line of failures for Kyle, which breaks the proverbial camel’s back.  Lee connects with Kyle because Kyle is what some might call “a loser.”  While Lee on the outside appears to have it all together – career, money, fame – he too is really nothing more than a dressed up “loser” and a failure in many areas of his life.

Kyle holds Lee and Walt Camby (the CEO of the company that “lost his money”) responsible for his losses.  Kyle gets the little fish (kidnapping Lee on air) and is determined to get to the big fish (Walt Camby).  This is when the movie really takes off.  Kyle wants a logical explanation for an event that defies logic, and he wants it now: How could a thriving, profitable company lose hundreds of millions of dollars overnight?

Money Monster strikes a good balance between suspense, humor, human tragedy, fiction and reality. It is about the emotions of those who have lost pensions, 401k’s, and life’s savings (during – oh, pick a financial crisis we’ve been through – the stock bubble in 1987, the tech bubble of early 2000, Enron (2001), Worldcom (2002), the real estate bubble in early 2006, another stock bubble into 2007, oil in mid-2008, gold in mid-2011, etc.), who no one ever thinks about again after the dust has settled.  It draws attention to the loopholes and unsavory practices that exist in big business that may be considered immoral, but are not illegal.  It is a cautionary tale about investing all your money in one place.  It is about a “rigged” system which favors the rich.  It is about having to go to extreme measures at times to be heard and seen.  Although the scenario seems a bit far-fetched, the story is quite realistic in many ways and relatable. It is the type of movie many people can identify with.  Anyone who has ever had the feeling of being treated “unfairly” or that life has screwed them over somehow will be able to get into this movie.

The company that loses this great amount of money overnight represents the companies and markets that have failed and affected many, many Americans.

Kyle Budwell represents those left to deal with the aftermath of these “failures”; all those “little people” who lose jobs, homes and security during these crises. There never seems to be any concrete explanation given as to why (Note: Watch The Big Short. If you haven’t seen it, you should. And prepare yourself to be enlightened and angry).  There are usually little-to-no consequences for those who are found to be responsible (if anyone is found to be responsible at all).  And there is little-to-no recourse for those who have suffered the losses – but to accept it, move on and attempt to rebuild their lives.  Kyle Budwell becomes heroic in that he creates his own recourse, gets his explanation, and may or may not have made it possible to hold someone accountable.

Jodie Foster does a good job directing Money Monster. She seems to have a strong understand how a movie is supposed to play out in pacing and timing.  There is decent acting all the way around with appearances from Giancarlo Esposito, Lenny Venito and notable co-star Caitriona Balfe and the plot keeps the audience engaged all the way through.

Overall, Money Monster earned 7 out of 10 bloops. It is a good movie worth seeing.

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