Dumb Money is based on the true story of the GameStop surge in January 2021 and how an online community rallied together to help make it happen.
It’s an ensemble cast of well-known names that bring to life the real billionaire fund managers as well as underdog amateur investors. The movie opens during the height of GameStop’s stock rise with Gabe Plotkin (Seth Rogan) realizing he is losing billions. (Fun Fact: Plotkin just bought our local NBA team, so I think he’s doing ok). We get our first look at an especially stoic Nick Offerman as Ken Griffin, along with Vincent D’Onofrio as Steve Cohen. Their ridiculous net worth shows up on screen as they watch the shorted stock skyrocket. But how did they get here?
We travel back six months and meet Keith Gill (Paul Dano), a member of an online reddit group called r/wallstreetbets. I think they want Gill to be the heart of the story, but he’s kind of just this ordinary guy. He believes GameStop is undervalued and he’s willing to bet on it. Encouraged by his way-too-supportive wife (Shaeline Woodley), he shares his thoughts in live videos posted under his online alias Roaring Kitty and people start to notice. His posts gain momentum and other followers join forces to rage against the machine of Wall Street. Thousands of amateur investors help send GameStop’s price up with no/low cost trading apps like RobinHood (which we learn more about too).
To try and add some depth to the story, director Craig Gillespie brings in additional characters who catch on to Roaring Kitty’s posts. There’s Marcus, the “essential” GameStop employee played by Anthony Ramos (with a fantastic Savage dance routine for TikTok). America Ferrara plays Jenny, a hopeful single mom and truly essential nurse just keeping her head above water. And then there’s college friends Harmony (Talia Ryder) and Riri (Myha’la Herrold) with mounds of student debt and some over-the-top drinking games. It’s a welcomed glimpse of the different kinds of real people who got on this ride ‘to the moon,’ but fails to be meaningful.
Pete Davidson plays Gill’s brother Kevin and is one of my favorite characters. His dialogue is witty and often feels unscripted, reflective of great casting. There are even some touching family moments where Davidson shines, and it seems to come easy for him.
The story is fun, interesting, and enviable-but it feels like it rushes through to the ending. There is a bit of satisfaction in reliving the congressional hearings, especially with Gill’s testimony, but I wanted more. The soundtrack is lively and reminiscent of lockdown days scrolling through (and dancing to) TikTok. However, on the way home from the theater the song “Raise Your Glass” by Pink came on and it fit PERFECTLY as an end credit song for this film. Gill raises a glass during his live feeds, his wife refers to him as gangster, AND they are all underdogs. Kind of serendipitous.