Betting Against the House – The Big Short (2015)

A feel-bad comedy.  So back in the mid-2000’s, right before the housing market collapsed, there were a few men who were able to read between the lines and foresaw that the industry was a time bomb.  This is their story of how they made it rich by betting against the banks.  Now this was something that I (obviously) lived through, but it wasn’t as much on my radar as it should have been.  I mean I was in my early 20’s, nothing to lose, and not a care in the world, so why would I have paid this economic flux any mind?  Well, a few years later and a home purchase later, I consider myself to be a changed man, and The Big Short is a movie with a lot to say.

1This was a gigantic crisis, and even though this is a “comedy”, it is never taken lightly.

Now this is directed by Adam McKay who is better known for his Will Ferrell movies like Anchorman, Talladega Nights or Step Brothers.  I can appreciate him taking a break from the over-the-top to direct a movie that has more of a point and a better sense of purpose, although if you watch the end credit sequence of The Other Guys, the decision for him to make this movie shouldn’t come as a giant surprise.  It feels fresh and inspired and it is a situation where a great script meets a great cast.  Bale and Gosling are as good as expected, but I was most impressed with the performance turned in by Steve Carell.  Even with a transformation performance like the one in Foxcatcher, it was hard for me not to just see Michael Scott from The Office at points.  While this is a character that certainly has quirks, it was a role where I only saw this character, and for that, I give the man a tip of my hat.

2I personally thought he deserved a nomination over Bale, but that was just me.

The only minor problem I have with this is that the trailers sold this to me as a comedy, and it really isn’t all that funny.  I just bought a house, and this is actually pretty serious material; much like 99 Homes, seeing people potentially be put out of their homes is a pretty depressing subject matter.  In fact, the only points where I really found this to be funny are when they have celebrity guest cameos break the fourth wall and dumb down complex concepts to the audience.  Even using its most simplistic terms, learning about the housing market is like learning a new language, and even though I felt like I followed it, The Big Short does have moments where you know that it is going over your head.  In my opinion, this is the best edited movie of the year, it has a great message that opens yours eyes to a flabbergasting event that occurred all too recently, and it is an important movie to remember so we can ensure that we don’t repeat the mistakes of yesteryear.

The Big Short (2015) ****

– Critic for Hire

Want to see where this fell in my list of best films of the 2015?  See for yourself here.

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