There were only two ways Money Monster was going to go. It was either going to be an excellent critique of our modern capitalist system and neoliberal society, or a lame movie that just pretended to be deep but muddled itself down in the end.
Have you read my recent reviews? Do you really think I’m going to find a hidden gem at the beginning of the summer blockbuster season?
The movie opens well enough. Rather than giving us any unnecessary backstory or prologue the film starts just a few minutes before Money Monster is set to go live. The show-within-the-movie is a Jim Cramer-esque product where Lee Gates (George Clooney) tells the viewers what stocks to buy and what to sell.
While Lee is busy being kind of a douche to the rest of the staff, his producer, Patty Fenn (Julia Roberts) works to keep Lee on point and prep him for the talking points of the day. Today they’re going to talk to an IBIS representative about what went wrong the night before when a glitch in the company’s high speed trading algorithm seemed to have lost $800 million.
Yeah, $800 million. That’s, like, lots of money, dude.
Just a few minutes into the live broadcast, a very disgruntled man takes over the show with a gun and forces Lee to put on an explosive vest under the reasoning that he wants answers. It seems that this poor schmuck, Kyle Budwell (Jack O’Connell) lost all of his savings when he invested in IBIS at Lee’s insistence.
What follows is ... stuff. Maybe this is where things could have gotten really tight and interesting if the movie were interested in actually exploring corporate malfeasance, but instead what follows is a tepid mystery as Patty and IBIS employee Diane Lester (Caitriona Balfe) work behind the scenes to figure out exactly what happened to the money.
I can say that the acting in Money Monster is good, especially when Clooney and O’Connell are interacting with each other. What I can’t say is anything else particularly positive. The plot is weak and it’s obvious that while they tried to say something, everyone involved is just too far removed from reality at this point that they cannot seem to comprehend what the real problem is.
Good job to Jodie Foster for a beautifully shot, well acted movie. Bad job to everyone, including her, on such a tepid attempt at being thought-provoking.
Starring: George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jack O'Connell, Dominc West, Caitriona Balfe, Giancarlo Esposito
Directed by: Jodie Foster
Written by: Alan DiFiore, Jim Kouf, Jamie Linden
Running time: 98 minutes