Review: 'The Big Short' is a lighthearted look at a dire situation


THE BIG SHORT: 4 ½ STARS

“The Big Short” is an infuriating movie. Not because it’s poorly made but because it is so well made.

See Full Article

It takes years of banking bafflegab and distils it down to the essence in what may be the funniest, smartest and most maddening look at why America’s housing market crashed in 2008.

The films opens with a famous Mark Twain quote, “I’t ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.” The quote is a bit of a Mobius strip but so is the story “The Big Short” is trying to tell.

Based on Michael Lewis‘ nonfiction best-seller of the same name, the film presents a cavalcade of facts and information formed into a story about how four investment-bankers—played by Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Finn Wittrock, John Magaro—saw the financial meltdown coming when no one else did. Taking on the arrogance of Wall Street’s old boy network, they bet against the American economy and, in the process, expose an unprecedented level of financial criminality.

“The Big Short” is a lighthearted look at a dire situation. Call it a dramedy. Director Adam McKay is best known for making movies like “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues,” “The Other Guys,” “Step Brothers,” so he knows how to milk a laugh out of a scene. He also knows that the level of understanding the viewer needs to get why the housing bubble burst is above the level of most MBAs.

The movie explains that Wall Street likes to use confusing terms to make you think only they can understand what they do. “It's like 2+2 = fish,” says one banker, expressing disbelief at the financial manipulations used by the big banks. To make the financial mumbo-jumbo sexy the McKay uses a variety of tricks, including cutting to Margot Robbie in a bubble bath explaining subprime loans in plain language. It’s a spoonful of sugar to help the expositional medicine go down. From the simple—one loan officer calls his clients “Ninjas, no income, no job.”—to the incredibly complex world of CDOs (collateralized debt obligations) “The Big Short” doesn’t shy away from tackling complex financial transactions but it never feels dry or forced. McKay is a showman, and layers the film with fourth-wall-breaking celebrity cameos and concise social commentary woven into the drama.

A great scene of Goldman Sachs executives laughing at Dr. Michael Burry’s (Christian Bale) $100 million investment is cut into a rap video celebrating excess. In one wordless scene McKay illustrates the arrogance of the bankers in the days before the rug was pulled out from underneath them.

Subtle it's not, but the director’s use of pop culture images and music to set the scene goes a long way to establish a time, place and tone.

“The Big Short” features strong performances—Bale stretches in ways we haven't seen from him before—but it is the film’s unflinching depiction of unbridled greed that will resonate.



Advertisements

Latest Entertainment News

  • Trump feted by Tony Orlando, Jackie Evancho at inauguration

    Entertainment CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Donald and Melania Trump were feted at their inaugural balls by the Rockettes and by singer Tony Orlando, who sang his famous "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree." Meanwhile, earlier in the day, it was 16-year-old singer Jackie Evancho who had the spotlight, singing the national anthem in a soft, solemn voice. Source
  • Selena Gomez and The Weeknd spotted at impromptu John Mayer gig

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Selena Gomez and The Weeknd went public with their new romance in Silver Lake, California on Thursday night when they were spotted at the Tenant of the Trees club. The couple was spotted hugging and kissing outside a Santa Monica, California restaurant earlier this month, but they played it low-key on Thursday and were rarely caught together during the night out. Source
  • Jennifer Aniston eager to return to TV

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Jennifer Aniston is eager to return to TV, insisting she is ready to enter a new phase of her career. The actress starred on hit show Friends from 1994 to 2004, before becoming one of Hollywood’s top movie stars, but now the actress feels there is a lot of quality work on TV - and she is hoping to land a new show. Source
  • Jackie Evancho, Mormon Tabernacle Choir perform at inauguration, but A-listers gather at unofficial events

    Entertainment CBC News
    The new president called out "Great job, Jackie!" after 16-year-old Jackie Evancho delivered a soft-voiced rendition of the national anthem at Friday's swearing-in ceremony. INTERACTIVES | Donald Trump sworn in as president The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sang America the Beautiful, and the Missouri State University Chorale sang Now We Belong, in a ceremony that featured decidedly less star power than in 2013. Source
  • Idina Menzel, Nia Long bring 'Beaches' remake to TV

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    PASADENA, Calif. — For Idina Menzel and Nia Long, director Garry Marshall’s 1988 melodrama “Beaches,” starring Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey, is a four-hankie treat. So why do a remake? “Why not?” replied Long (“The Best Man Holiday”), pointing to the story’s timeless elements. Source
  • Rapper iLoveMakonnen comes out as gay

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Rapper iLoveMakonnen has come out as gay on social media. The hip-hop star, who used to be signed to Drake’s OVO Sound record label, took to Twitter in the early hours of Friday morning to confirm long-running rumours he is homosexual. Source
  • Al Gore stays mum on Trump meeting, says 'it's not the last'

    Entertainment CBC News
    Former Vice President Al Gore said that while he wouldn't divulge specifics about his December conversation with Donald Trump, it wasn't "the last conversation." Speaking to a packed auditorium in Park City following the premiere of the climate change documentary An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, which kicked off the 33rd Sundance Film Festival Thursday, Gore said that he's seen a lot of people who started out as climate deniers change over time. Source
  • E-book publishers and Apple reach new deal with Competition Bureau over pricing

    Entertainment CBC News
    Three major book publishers have signed a deal with Canada's Competition Bureau that will allow retailers to sell those publishers' e-books at whatever price they want — something they couldn't do before. Holtzbrinck (which operates under the Macmillan brand name) along with Simon & Schuster and Hachette? have come to an agreement that could allow electronic book sellers such as Apple and Kobo to set the prices of books they sell by those publishing houses. Source
  • 'We make the terror'; On Inauguration Day, ’House of Cards’ announces May return

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — “House of Cards” will return in May for a fifth season. The show’s Twitter account posted a video on Inauguration Day featuring an upside-down U.S. flag in front of the U.S. Capitol. The video ends with the date May 30. Source
  • Animal treatment questions cancel 'A Dog's Purpose' premiere

    Entertainment CTV News
    LOS ANGELES - This weekend's premiere of "A Dog's Purpose" has been cancelled following the release of a video that appears to show a frightened dog being forced into churning water during production of the film. Source