Remember the “meme stock” phenomenon of 2021, which was driven by the GameStop short squeeze on Wall Street? Well, there’s now a movie about it, two and a half years later, which is about as fast as you can turn around a feature film.
From director Craig Gillespie, who is becoming a “ripped from the headlines” guy, comes Dumb Money, starring Paul Dano as financial analyst and former securities broker Keith Gill, better known as Youtuber “Roaring Kitty” and Redditor “DeepF-ckingValue”. The trailer dropped yesterday, and it actually looks pretty good.
People were divided when the GameStop “stonk” phenomenon took off as to whether or not it was a good thing (yes, some people made money, but a lot lost money, too), but Dumb Money is unabashedly framing it as a David v. Goliath scenario in which Gill and his anonymous online army of followers take on Wall Street and hedge fund billionaires to capture a little wealth of their own. Stock stuff is always nerve-wracking because Wall Street is basically a casino, and someone is always left holding the bag, but people love to watch billionaires lose, and that is Dumb Money’s angle in this trailer. One of the sharpest and best moments is when Gill’s wife, Caroline (played by Shailene Woodley), says, “We’re like, really f-cking rich,” after they’ve made $9 million.
This is contrasted with hedge fund billionaire Gabe Plotkin (Seth Rogen) in his palatial modern home, bemoaning the loss of billions. It’s a slick way to demonstrate the gap between rich and not-rich (never mind the gap between rich and poor). It’s not just about “ludicrously capacious bags” and quiet luxury or whatever wealth-worshipping trend is popular right now, it’s VERY hard to conceptualize how much richer a billionaire is than the average person, but to an average person, $9 million is a life-changing fortune. It’s chump change to someone like Plotkin. He wouldn’t even notice $9 million if he dropped it on the sidewalk.
The film is, naturally, stacked with talent. Seth Rogen reunites with Gillespie after working with him on Pam & Tommy and I, Tonya; Sebastian Stan is also back from Pam & Tommy and I, Tonya, playing Robin Hood app CEO Vlad Tenev—GREAT casting, Stan plays an excellent asshole (see also: Sharper). Nick Offerman and Vincent D’Onofrio also star as hedge fund billionaires who got hosed in the squeeze, and America Ferrera and Anthony Ramos play a couple of the retail investors who followed Gill’s online recommendation. Pete Davidson stars as Keith Gill’s brother, Kevin.
One thing I hope we get from this film is the after, particularly what happened to Keith Gill. He testified in front of Congress, sure, but he also had to resign from his job at MassMutual, and William Galvin, the Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth, went hard after Gill, basically accusing him of market manipulation. It’s pretty clear Gill was persecuted for daring to share institutional investing tricks with average investors, though the SEC found no wrongdoing on his part. Justice for Keith Gill!
Here is Paul Dano at the Givenchy menswear show in Paris yesterday. Jared Leto was, ugh, also there.