Movie Review: The Big Short

Who knew that investment banking can be this entertaining?

Charles Randolph and Adam McKay chops a technical subject into digestible chunks and delivers edutainment. 

The movie is also aware that it’s just a matter of time before audiences get tired of watching men in suits throw a mash of jargon and cuss words at each other, so it breaks the fourth wall and enlists celebrities to help the audience.

In one scene, Jared Vennett uses Jenga to explain the fraudulent structure of the housing market. Long story short, it’s made up of faulty loans with incorrect AAA ratings bundled and stacked on each other.

This alpha douche is played by Ryan Gosling, who has proven he can do comedy as much as drama. While his character is the narrator of The Big Short, Mark Baum emerges as the protagonist and heart of the cynical book adaptation. Steve Carrell proves that he too can be versatile. The two are joined by bankable stars Brad Pitt and Christian Bale. They’re accompanied by a supporting cast that adds a variety of outsiders and enablers.

While McKay’s effort to take on a broad topic is admirable, The Big Short often gets distracted by its own gimmickry.

The frantic cinematography is exhausting. Barry Ackroyd attempts to present important scenes as if it were an action movie but ends up muddling whatever important information you’re supposed to derive from the sequence.

While its comedic approach to a confusing subject is amusing, such as using Selena to explain complex terms like a synthetic CDO, these lectures interfere with the narrative. 

There is a sense of outrage through the course of the movie, but it downplays the fact that its characters are no different from your average banker. A bunch of bankers profited from the stupidity of the banks that profited from the ignorance of unsuspecting Americans.

Overall, the movie’s approach makes it look like a 2-hour long lecture inspired by The Office. The movie does acknowledge the reality of the situation in the end, but this is lost in the sped-up montage of random images.

Still, The Big Short does manage to get your attention while making you laugh at the ingenuity of its characters and seethe at the truth of their success. It doesn’t give you anything substantial about the scale and scope of the impact of the financial crisis, but it is able to provide more accessible information about an exploitable system.

The Big Short


The Big Short is able to deliver an entertaining account of reckless capitalism but gets sidetracked by its own gimmickry.

You may also like

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments