Sometimes when I look up Oscar-nominated movies (since I often haven’t heard of them until they are nominated), I get really excited about them. The Big Short was not one of those movies.
It’s about some guys predicting the housing market cash of the mid-2000s and making a bunch of money off it. Oops, I think I might have dozed off already…
The real draw for this movie is actually that it stars Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, and Brad Pitt. I feel like that’s literally the only thing that would make someone want to watch this movie in the first place. For me, I knew it had been on Netflix for probably almost a year, but it always just stayed put on my mental queue (I didn’t even put it on the list for real…) as something we could watch if we felt like a movie some night. Until finally, I said the other night, “We could watch that one movie with all those guys in it…”
The thing about this movie is that they know full-well that it’s some pretty boring stuff.
In a tongue-in-cheek fashion, the story is frequently interrupted for a to-the-camera explanation of what the financial jargon actually means. Sometimes the explanations aren’t actually 100% effective – I turned to my husband several times with a, “Wait…” and we had to pause it and piece out together what was actually happening. (Granted, we know virtually nothing about the financial world).
But despite the boring and confusing nature of the subject matter, we were enthralled.
I’m still not entirely certain how they did it, but they were able to take what could have been two hours of pure boredom and make it interesting.
I think partially it was that, however foggy the intricacies of the situation remained, the movie did do a good job of making the over all issues clear. We didn’t know exactly how these people were losing money, making money, committing fraud, etc., but the tension was building, and we could feel the characters’ pain and anxiety.
The other thing that made it all quite palatable was the characters themselves. From Steve’s Carell’s character’s painful back-story, to the two no-name up-and-coming financial dudes working out of their garage as they tried to get a piece of the action, to Brad Pitt’s character who was being pulled out of his new hippy lifestyle to get back into this financial mess – not to mention Christian Bale’s strong portrayal of an eccentric medical doctor turned wall-street guru – we are made to care deeply about their woes and successes.
It’s rated R and does have some decent-sized moral issues to be aware of.
A lot of profanity. Normally I’m not that bothered by language in movies, but there were a couple intense financial-issue scenes (I have to laugh, because to me that sounds like kind of on oxymoron…) where the F word probably comprised about half of the words spoken. It got to a point where it felt like, “Do you guys even know how to talk using any other words??” There was also plenty of other profanity throughout the movie.
The other major issue was some unnecessary sexual nudity. There were no actual sex scenes, but instead there were two strip club scenes, neither of which had really any bearing on the plot. The first one was pretty brief; but in the second one, Steve Carell’s character is talking to a stripper about her mortgages, while she’s “working.” In addition to these two scenes, there were a couple of scenes featuring not exactly nudity but scantily clad women being sexually provocative. Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of these scenes was the fact that they were entirely irrelevant to the plot (with the exception of Steve Carell talking to the stripper, but certainly she didn’t have to be naked for that scene…). One can only assume that the filmmakers thought inserting the sexuality into the story might help spice up the dryness of the topic. But obviously, that wasn’t necessary at all since I found that aspect distasteful but still enjoyed what they’d done to make the rest of the movie interesting.
It’s not bad. It’s definitely better than the premise promises to be. And if nothing else, it does have some pretty good performances by “all those guys.”