Creating a satire about the real life housing collapse of 2008 is no small task to take on. Making light of people losing their homes and glorifying the people at the top who got rich off their misfortune is a difficult balance. The line isn’t always level in the new satirical film The Big Short, but the mockery is needed to keep up with the numbers game and follow the plot.
The Big Short is the true story of group of outsiders working in the financial district who foresaw the bursting of the housing bubble before the big banks or the government ever had a clue. To say that you need to have a degree in Mathematics and Business to follow director’s Adam McKay’s new film is an understatement. The Big Short can almost be too smart for its own good at times with the audience being left behind as numbers upon numbers are hurled at them.
The Big Short is a film you have to pay attention to or you’ll get lost in the process like many of the home owners that fell victim to the economic collapse. To help the audience cheat a little in The Big Short and keep up with the financial scheming, McKay installs scenes of parody filled with celebrities giving you the cliff notes version of the groups plan to bet against the housing market. The scenes serve as great metaphor showing the American public only pays attention to the world of celebrities and not their debt.
The Big Short may be hard to follow at times with its fast paced wheeling and dealing business opportunities, but you stay interested due to the stellar acting from Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling and Steve Carell. Bale plays Michael Burry, the first to best against the American people. Bale gives a performance that makes the audience feel weirded out by this brilliant, but eccentric numbers guy. Gosling is a natural as the slick talking banker that serves as our guide breaking the fourth wall with our audience throughout The Big Short.
Finn Wittrock and Brad Pitt also deliver solid supporting roles, but the star of The Big Short is Steve Carell. The former The Office actor plays Mark Baum who despite his opportunity to make millions, feels awful about the future he sees for our country and the hard-working people who live here. Carell plays the heart and the moral compass of The Big Short and in a film like this where greed is celebrated. A standout role like Carell’s is needed to give those struggling in the theater hope.
Overall, I give The Big Short 3 out of 4 stars.