Viewed and Reviewed: The Big Short (2015)

The Big Short (2015)

dir. Adam McKay

written by: Charles Randolph, Adam McKay

starring: Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt, Finn Wittrock


2.5  out of 4 stars

I had terribly little interest in this movie during the tiny build up period.  That mild disinterest turned into mild disdain as it began to sweep up out-of-nowhere critics prizes.  Finally it landed in disgruntled obligation when it managed to land five Academy Awards nominations, including Best Picture.  Now leaving only The Revenant as the Best Picture nominee I haven’t seen, I got around to The Big Short.  From the mind of Adam McKay, the guy who has written and directed every bro-licious Will Ferrell movie since Anchorman, we receive a reflection on the absurd stupidity that led to the housing bubble’s burst last decade.  Adapted from the nonfiction book by Michael Lewis, the same guy behind Moneyball and The Blind Side, the narrative derives from the outlandishly large shorting of the housing market by Michael Burry (Christian Bale), a doctor turned economy guru, and progresses to Mark Baum (Steve Carell) and other banking minors attempting to prove the absurd loans inflating home ownership ability are junk.


Intercutting strippers, pop culture shifts and terrible haircuts, McKay delivers an episode of The Office cut together by a hyped up music video editor.  Breaks in reality awkwardly mar a mockumentary education of how millions of people lost their jobs and homes due to the lack of oversight, bribery, trickery, and down right irresponsibilities of the American banking system.  For a topic that ended the lives of people world round, McKay takes the comedic approach, focusing more on the recklessness than to focus directly on the human suffering it later caused.  Moments in the movie are strong, such as when Baum’s team realizes this crisis is built off as much stupidity as greed; this fits with McKay’s vision.  Interspersed too often are portions of the movie that just fall apart.  Not particularly sure where they’re going, it’s a lot of talking with little progress.  Memory simply replays a few notable scenes stirred into static and filler.


I am having trouble pinpointing where the movie went wrong.  The subject matter is timely and very relevant; 99 Homes premiered this year focusing on the human misery this crisis created.  The acting is fine.  Bale highlights the group with another unrecognizable characterization, but it’s hardly his role from The Fighter.  Carell continues to show his dramatic growth, but we’re leaning further from Foxcatcher and landing a bit too on anger-equals-dramatic-acting territory.  A slew of smaller roles and cameos show the acting is generally fine.  The quagmire consists of whether the directing, writing or editing threw off this production, and this bog further deepens when all three of these aspects garnered awards attentions.  The script seems scattered, but the choppy editing may not have helped this.  Overall, Adam McKay may have called for the production to meander in inconsistent moods.  Any way around it, I’m somewhat baffled as to how this movie became so popular.  I would need to watch this movie again to really get a grasp on what turned me off, but that would require the unwanted task of watching this movie again.  No thank you; bring on The Revenant.


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