Money Monster

Money Monster

It is always a treat to watch perfectly cast, seasoned actors in a thoughtfully directed intelligent film. George Clooney and Julia Roberts shine in this dramatic thriller with a social commentary.

Hating on Wall Street and the plutocracy is nothing new in film, but since the Occupy Wall Street movement began in 2011, coupled with the home-mortgage crash, bank bailouts and now Bernie Sanders' momentum, there has been a noticeable shift in the dialogue. In this age of information, we are asking for, and expecting, well, answers. That is something the desperate everyman villain is seeking in this movie.

The movie takes place on the set of the wildly successful television show Money Monster hosted by a frenetic and egomaniacal Lee Gates (brilliantly played by George Clooney). In the opening segment, Gates flits about like a fruit fly on speed as his producer, Patty Fenn (Julia Roberts), chases him from the bathroom to the set in an attempt to get yet another daily show off the ground.

Lee Gates’ show Money Monster is kitschy entertainment disguised as legitimate Wall Street investment news and is in full throttle when Kyle Budwell (Jack O’Connell) walks on to the set, points a gun at Gates and makes him put on a vest loaded with explosives. Budwell is a $14 an hour delivery worker who has lost his $60,000 inheritance when he invested it in a company called Ibis on Gates’ recommendation.

Gates is dumbfounded that someone would be so upset over such a paltry amount of money and offers to pay him the amount he lost. Kyle seems tempted, but doesn’t want the money; he’s angry, he’s desperate and he wants to know exactly why it happened. Ibis, the mega-corp. that prides itself on transparency, will only spout talking points, saying it was a “computer glitch” that caused the company to misplace $800 million dollars in investor capital and the stock to crash.

Clooney nails the characterization of a manic demagogue so high on his own celebrity, he finds it impossible to believe someone would cancel a dinner appointment with him seven times.

Filled with hubris, it is only when he makes a plea for the millions of investors “out there watching” to buy Ibis stock, not to make money, but to save his life that he realizes the ugly truth that no one cares about him

There is just something wonderful about Roberts that automatically adds class to any film lucky enough to have her and Money Monster is no exception. Many actresses could have played Patty Fenn, but she brings such honesty and vulnerability to the role, it makes the most out of every morsel of dialogue she’s given. She’s the real star of this film and I would have liked to see her given more in this potentially juicy role.

Jack O’Connell (you might recognize him from 2014’s Unbroken) is disturbingly pathetic as Kyle Budwell, the little guy who tried and lost at playing money games with the big boys. His initial mumbling and confusing rant is great screenwriting as he blurts out phrases like “everything’s rigged” and “you’re all a bunch of liars - everyone”.

No spoilers in this review, but let’s just say that the story plays out pretty much as we might have guessed it will. It’s unfortunate that where this movie had the opportunity to deliver some hard hits at the corruption of the stock market, those potential punches are mere slaps on the wrist. It is sad commentary that when the drama is finally over, it is almost instantly forgotten and consolidated to an Internet meme. Again, the writers lost an opportunity to move us and chose a significantly more jaded ending.

At only 98 minutes, there is lots to like, but I couldn’t help think that with the level of talent, this very good movie had the potential to be great. As the end of the film draws near, the plot also seems to unravel and digress so we don’t really feel very bad for anyone … and we should. We should feel bad because the story is about a little guy being screwed over by a corrupt and broken system; it, unfortunately, happens every day and it shouldn’t take a desperate maniac with a gun to point that out.

Movie locations and times

I give this film 4 hearts.

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About the Author

Kim Foreman-Rhindress is a graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City and London Western Conservatory of music for piano and voice. 

Kim has been performing in theatre and film for over 30 years in Canada, NYC, Palm Beach, Los Angeles, and the Netherlands. She has written several plays which have been produced in Canada and the U.S., and is the founder of Kelowna Voice Lab - helping people find their voice, be it singing or acting. 

A working musician, she performs regularly in Kelowna with her husband, Jim Rhindress, in an acoustic duo Smitten, and with her vintage trio Kitsch 'n Sync.  

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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