Reviewed by: Gabriel Mohler
about the non-fiction book on which this film was based, The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine
Mark Twain quote: “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”
money in the Bible
How can I spend my money more wisely? Answer
fraud in the investment industry
greed in banking
global collapse of the economy
men who made millions from the global economic meltdown
How do I know what is right from wrong? Answer
How can I decide whether a particular activity is wrong? Answer
Are we living in a moral Stone Age? Answer
|Featuring:||Brad Pitt … Ben Rickert
Christian Bale … Dr. Michael Burry
Ryan Gosling … Jared Vennett
Marisa Tomei … Cynthia Baum
Steve Carell … Mark Baum
Melissa Leo … Georgia Hale
Finn Wittrock … Jamie Shipley
Karen Gillan … Evie
|Producer:||Plan B Entertainment
Brad Pitt … Producer
Wow. I’m not quite sure what to say about “The Big Short.” It’s one of those films that leaves you silently thinking about it long after you walk out. When I caught wind of a true-story finance drama starring Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, and Brad Pitt, let’s just say I really hoped this review assignment would be available. And I wasn’t disappointed with the quality! As someone who is no expert on government-level finances, I found many things in the film hard to understand—and yet I never grew bored! On the down side, it was also hard to pay attention to the dialog when I was constantly adding tally marks to the language record.
Based on the non-fiction book by Michael Lewis (which I have not read), the plot follows four men who took advantage of the collapse of the economy—Michael Burry (Christian Bale), Mark Baum (Steve Carell), Jared Vennet (Ryan Gosling), and Ben Rickert (Brad Pitt)—and two young men who worked with them. Christian Bale plays a very convincing geek, Steve Carell is hilariously entertaining, Ryan Gosling’s laid-back nature perfectly fits his self-serving character, and Brad Pitt is Brad Pitt—the same scene-stealer he always is. While these four celebrities deserve much praise, so do the two important young actors: Jamie Shipley as Finn Wittrock, and Rafe Spall as Danny Moses. These roles were equally impressive, as ambitious young men who want to make money.
And now, ladies and gentlemen, I will address the language. It was way more prevalent than I had expected. God’s name was only used in vain 4 times—twice with d**n, as was Jesus’s name—once used with Christ and including an f-word. I counted 67 f-words (1 written, 3 with mother), 8 h*lls, 40 s-words, 3 d***bags, 4 *sses, and 1 pr*ck.
There are very few scenes involving sexual content, but the worst one is what pushes the moral rating from Offensive (due to language) to Very Offensive. Mark has to talk to a stripper about a business deal, and reluctantly agrees to talk at the strip club. I will note that he is obviously annoyed by her behavior. Unfortunately, breasts are shown—briefly, but close and clear. It’s worth noting that there is some genuine significance in the strip club: it adds to the character of the frowned-on and true-to-life recklessness of Mark’s colleagues. But it’s also worth noting that the nudity is unnecessary and, for Christian viewers, will cancel out any positive elements the scene may offer.
The movie is not only educational, but the ending does deliver a positive message. Sometimes, if evil wins at the end, it can actually be more thought-provoking—if it’s done in the right way. And this movie definitely does do it right—underhanded moves are not made to look good. We are shown the tragic consequences of the bad guys” victory, and it inspires us not to be like them. On a side note, also I approve of evil winning at the end if it is a mere honest reenactment of what really happened.
I’m kind of frustrated that I can’t give this movie a huge thumbs-up. The writers and directors could easily have made this a PG movie. Some will argue that the language is merely an accurate portrayal of what the world is like—and I can respect that to a degree. But the language in this film is gratuitous. Would the real-life people have had more dignity in their offices? I don’t know. But even realism probably wouldn’t have demanded a few f-bombs in almost every single scene.
I will add that it’s pretty obvious when the nudity is going to start, and where the scene ends—so closing your eyes for that scene might not be too hard. For mature viewers who take interest in financial events, this film might be worth watching—you’ve been cautioned. But I would advise you not to watch this film just for the cast, as many would understandably do. The people who made this movie knew what they were doing and how to do it. And they succeeded. But despite its positive messages, it falls short of a moral recommendation, due to its big vulgar side.
Violence: Minor / Profanity: Extreme / Sex/Nudity: Heavy
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.
…“The Big Short” somehow makes the '08 housing collapse entertaining… very funny movie… the profanity-laden humor of macho camaraderie is much in evidence here… The film packs in so much information and comedy, it would be fun to see it twice…
—Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
…A true crime story and a madcap comedy, a heist movie and a scalding polemic, “The Big Short” will affirm your deepest cynicism about Wall Street while simultaneously restoring your faith in Hollywood. …This is a terrifically enjoyable movie that leaves you in a state of rage, nausea and despair. …
—A.O. Scott, The New York Times
…a strenuously unfunny comic drama… both the behavior of the characters and the viewer responses sought are so repetitive and unchanging that it all becomes wearisome well before the far overlong feature wraps up. …
—Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter
…Adam McKay's financial-crisis comedy turns a dense economics lecture into a hyper-caffeinated postmodern farce. …some important plot points are nearly impossible for laypeople to decipher even with cheeky, fourth-wall-obliterating tutorials…
—Andrew Barker, Variety
…an improbable triumph… swings mainly between elation and mania… even manages to be instructive, both whimsically…and philosophically. …
—Joe Morgenstern, The Wall Street Journal
…Star wattage and fourth wall breaks can’t save this preachy adaptation… “The Big Short” plays like a trying lecture… [3/5]
—Nigel M. Smith, The Guardian (UK)
…“The Big Short”is a condescending mess… The main purpose of the film seems to be to encourage the actors to go bonkers playing up the eccentricities of their unfortunately coifed characters. …instead of being charming rogues, the principal characters strike a hurt and sorrowful tone as they rake in the millions, a choice that strips the film of any cheap vicarious thrills and makes the supposed comic lark about as fun as sleet. … [1/4]
—Kyle Smith, New York Post
…isn’t a drama and isn’t quite a comedy, but more like a bitter farce. …it gives one of the clearest explanations of the collapse that has been put on film…
—Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle
…this wildly entertaining satire can be uneven or strident at times, but director and co-writer Adam McKay taps into society’s pent-up frustration and anger at Wall Street arrogance and lets it burst forth over two very engaging hours. …
—Tim Grierson, Screen Daily