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Film Review: 'The Big Short' Will Have One Questioning Their Intelligence

by Todd A. Smith

 

(Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures)

 


Crazy Dummy Moment 

 

 

Have you ever experienced a school lecture in which the professor is doing a good job but you still do not quite understand the entire subject matter?


You want to raise your hand and ask a question but you do not want all of your classmates to think you’re an imbecile.


When you finally ask a question, everyone just shakes his or her head in amusement and kind of snickers.


In the illustrious words of my line brother, that’s what you call a crazy dummy moment.  And no matter how smart a person is everyone has had a crazy dummy moment or two.


“The Big Short” is a great movie but unless you are a banker or in the real estate business, some moments will make you feel like a crazy dummy even when they get beautiful women like Selena Gomez to dumb it down.


In the late 1970s, the banking industry was a complete bore.


There was little excitement and not as much money for employees as one would think.


Mortgage bonds was one of the guaranteed ways a banker could make decent cash outside of their usual salaries.


Since everyone paid their mortgages pretty much, the bonds were usually guaranteed to make a little money.


However, the popularity of adjustable rate mortgages became a dream and a nightmare for many American citizens as opposed to the more stable fixed rates.


People with no income and/or bad credit began to realize their dreams of being homeowners despite their checkered financial histories.


Many had multiple homes and mortgages and were living comfortably until the adjustable rate hikes went into effect, forcing many people into homelessness while others reaped the financial rewards of others’ misfortunes.


Dr. Michael Burry (Christian Bale) is the odd sort.


A glass eye makes him socially awkward.


And his brilliance makes him a trailblazer even when blazing a new trail is unpopular.


He is the first to see that the United States housing market is headed for disaster when rate hikes on adjustable rates set in.


As a result he wants to bet against those mortgage bonds and takes out insurance that will make him a billionaire if people begin to default on their loans.


Other visionaries like Jared Vennet (Ryan Gosling), Mark Baum (Steve Carrell) and Ben Rickert (Brad Pitt) soon follow his precedent by betting against the mortgage bonds.


However, the visionaries soon find out how crooked Wall Street and the government really is.


Some of the elite in this country would rather become billionaires even if it means many of their people end up on the streets.


“The Big Short” is brilliantly made with its sarcasm, actors talking directly into the camera like an early Spike Lee flick and its balance of cold-heartedness and compassion.


The cast obviously is brilliant with Bale, Gosling, Pitt and Marisa Tomei (Cynthia Baum) blessing the screen.


However, Carell steals the show with his oddball humanity and hilarious personality.


Like Tom Hanks, Eddie Murphy or Jamie Foxx, Carell is funny even when trying to be serious.


However, his comedic persona does not take away from the seriousness of the subject matter.


In “The Big Short,” filmmaker Adam McKay even does his best to educate mortgage and banking novices on the jargon used in the industry.

 

McKay does a good job with that effort too.  Because even when some subject matter is over a dummy’s head (like mine), it does not take away from the message in the “The Big Short.”


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This article was published on Friday 18 December, 2015.
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