Dumb Money is the ultimate 21st-century underdog story.
Dumb Money PLOT & STORY
Dumb Money follows Keith Gill (played by Paul Dano), a YouTuber with knowledge in one stock…..GameStop. After seeing the stock soar, Gill puts his life savings into it. He encourages others (America Ferrera, Anthony Ramos, Taila Ryder, Myha’la Herrold) to do the same.
However, this grabs the attention of Wall Street. Billionaires such as hedge-fund manager Gabe Plotkin (played by Seth Rogan) and his bosses Steve Cohen and Ken Griffin (played by Vincent D’Onofrio and Nick Offerman) begin to manipulate the stock. Thus creating a battle between the haves and the haves-not. Each of them try and control of the stock.
Based on the book The Antisocial Network by Ben Mezrich, Dumb Money comes to us from director Craig Gillespie, (Cruella, I’Tonya). Gillespie continues his track record in making us care of about characters with a bit of “grey” morality, though this time the characters that have the grey morality, are the heroes.
As a result, Gillespie, cinematographer Nicolas Karakatsanis, and production designer Scott Kuzio, displays a contrast between the characters with warm, bright colors for the 1%, while dark, grey colors are for the 99%. This heightened contrast by the main setting, which stretches from late 2020 to early 2021.
This becomes elaborated by composer Will Bates and music supervisor Susan Jacobs, supplying Dumb Money with songs like “W.A.P” by Megan Thee Stallion and “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes.
However, it is all supported by a strong script from screenwriters Lauren Schuker Blum & Rebecca Angelo, who along with editor Kirk Baxter, create a tight story involving multiple characters and settings.
Bringing the script to life, are some great performances led by Dano and Rogan. Dano, in particular, gives an Oscar-nominated performance as Gill. His meek yet sweet demeanor speaks to audiences. Furthermore, his chemistry with Pete Davidson’s Kevin and Shailene Woodley’s Caroline adds to his relatability.
As for Rogan, his performance as Plotkin is good, though not as good as Dano. However, when he is with Offerman or D’Onofrio, Rogan shines as the somewhat jokey one.
Some other standouts in Dumb Money include a charismatic Anthony Ramos as Game-Stop employee Marcus and a hilarious Sebastian Stan as Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev. Despite having limited screen time, Ramos and Stan make a memorable impression.
This also includes Ferrera. Though the difference is that her character Jenny unofficially serves as the film’s third lead. Finally, Ryder and Herrold’s fantastic chemistry as Harmony and Riri, brings an element of heart.
Overall, Gillespie and company brings in a contrast between the haves and the have-nots through Karakatsanis’ cinematography, Kuzio’s production design, and Bates’ score (along with Jacobs’ selection of songs).
A strong script from Blum and Angelo supports this contrast. Baxter tightening the edit just enough to where you’re able to follow multiple characters and settings, also elevates the story.
Subsequently, Dano leads an all-star cast. This includes standout performances from Ramos, Stan, Ferrera among others.
All in all, Dumb Money is the ultimate 21st-century underdog story and one that is definitely worth checking out!
SCORE: 4.5 out of 5
DISCLAIMER: This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the film being covered here wouldn’t exist.