Dumb Money review: GameStop stock exchange film trades in middling drama

The film will be released on Friday, 22 September

Paul Dano in Dumb Money. (Black Bear)
Paul Dano in Dumb Money. (Black Bear)
  • 🎞️ When is Dumb Money out in cinemas: 22 September, 2023

  • ⭐️ Our rating: 3/5

  • 🎭 Who's in it? Paul Dano, Shailene Woodley, Seth Rogen, America Ferrera, Pete Davidson, Nick Offerman, Anthony Ramos, and Sebastian Stan.

  • 👍 What we liked: Craig Gillespie injects an element of human drama into the story using compelling side characters, making it easier to connect with the real-life events of the public flipping the script on Wall Street by investing in GameStop.

  • 👎 What we didn't: The film lacks an intensity to it because of the events it is based on.

  • 📖 What's it about? In 2021, a YouTuber's desire to invest in GameStop led to a game changing moment when everyday people began took on the fat cats of Wall Street by making the video game store massive on the stock market.

Dumb Money is a modern tale of David Vs Goliath ripped straight from the headlines. It tells the true story of a group of would-be investors taking on Wall Street when YouTuber Roaring Kitty, aka Keith Gill (Paul Dano), inspired an array of Reddit users to invest in GameStop shares.

Read more: Writing Dumb Money 'was like 'hopping onto a rollercoaster in the middle of its course'

They put the squeeze on the hedge fund companies that had bet the company would collapse during the Covid pandemic, and made a huge profit through it.

It's a delightful eat the rich narrative: the little man takes back the power from the elite and plays them at their own game. On paper it sounds like a great idea for a movie; in practice it is just about alright.

Pete Davidson and Paul Dano in Dumb Money. (Black Bear)
Pete Davidson and Paul Dano in Dumb Money. (Black Bear)

On one side of the ring are a unique cast of characters like America Ferrera's nurse Jenny Campbell, Anthony Ramos' GameStop worker Marcus, and Gill's brother Kevin (Pete Davidson). On the other is hedge fund managers Gabe Plotkin (Seth Rogen), Steve Cohen (Vincent D'Onofrio) and Kenneth C. Griffin (Nick Offerman).

Craig Gillespie (I, Tonya/Cruella) directs a star-studded cast led by Dano who has a quiet charm as Gill, the unassuming and unexpected leader of a modern movement. The real Gill has chosen to leave the spotlight following the events of the GameStop stock frenzy, but he will live on forever on the silver screen thanks to this film.

Shailene Woodley and Paul Dano in Dumb Money. (Black Bear)
Shailene Woodley and Paul Dano in Dumb Money. (Black Bear)

The filmmaker did well in bringing in so many voices other than Gill because the large cast adds a human element to the story — there's only so much audiences can engage with in a movie about stocks and shares before they lose interest, but having someone to connect with onscreen makes it feel less clinical.

Of the supporting cast, Ferrera stands out the most as Jenny because her fiery passion helps to convey the impact the real chain of events had on the average investor on the ground, while Sebastian Stan delivers a gleefully ridiculous performance as Vlad Tenev, the co-CEO of financial tech company Robinhood.

Sebastian Stan in Dumb Money. (Black Bear)
Sebastian Stan in Dumb Money. (Black Bear)

The problem that Dumb Money has is that there isn't enough to the story to make it as intense as it could be. This is no Wall Street (or for that matter The Wolf of Wall Street).

Even though it is sold as being an awe-inspiring battle between a rag-tag group of would-be investors and billionaire bankers, the stakes never feel like they go high enough, and the fact a lot of the film takes place over Zoom hinders what intensity it could have had despite being true to life.

Dumb Money will keep viewers engaged in its story thanks to its delightful cast of characters, but it won't inspire a movement like Gill really did in reality.

Dumb Money is out in cinemas now.

Watch the trailer for Dumb Money