In the world of trading, retail (individual) investors are called “dumb money”, deemed poor investments by the big hedge funds. The true story of the GameStop short squeeze in 2021, however, was astonishing, and Dumb Money provides the dramatisation we all need, proving how wrong the phrase can be.
Keith Gill (Paul Dano) is just an ordinary guy, trying to apply his stock trading knowledge to take on the fat cats of Wall Street. A small-time streamer and Reddit forum user, Keith takes a risk by investing all his savings in the GameStop stock and promoting the investment to his small following. In a matter of days, regular people on Wall Street are defying expectations and making a fortune, and Keith’s social media posts go viral, changing his life and the lives of his followers. The stock tip becomes a movement, making everyone rich, but before long the billionaires retaliate and both sides face unexpected legal consequences.
Working off the Ben Mezrich book, The Antisocial Network, and packing an A-list cast for what could have easily ended up a B-movie, Dumb Money injects fun into the serious world of investing with a strong narrative structure from writing trio Lauren Schuker Blum, Rebecca Angelo and Ben Mezrich. The story was all over the news for a number of weeks, but, despite this, viewers may not know what truly happened. The movie effortlessly carries them through Keith’s unexpected journey in an explainable manner, cutting out all the complex trading jargon, almost like an anti-The Big Short.
It is practically impossible not to like any of this cast. Paul Dano, Sebastian Stan, Seth Rogen, Pete Davidson, Nick Offerman, Anthony Ramos and America Ferrera all deliver the goods, each character compelling in their own way, and the movie has a feel of The Social Network about it, giving each character a motive and backstory, although not quite as dark a setting. Dumb Money doesn’t try to be more than it needs to be, taking a lighthearted approach to the fascinating events and not thrusting a red-hot poker into capitalism, instead making the would-be villains of Offerman and Rogen simply out of touch with reality, rather than cold-blooded billionaires.
The real GameStop short squeeze didn’t quite have the devastating long-term effects the movie tries to claim as the credits roll, but it nonetheless raised awareness of the failings of the market and how even those who claim to be experts really only know a fraction of how the system works. The “little guy” just loved the stock and in a display of resilience, faith and drive, harvested a small win in the face of adversity.
Dumb Money is released nationwide on 18th September 2023.
Watch the trailer for Dumb Money here: