Friday, May 13, 2016

Movie with Abe: Money Monster

Money Monster
Directed by Jodie Foster
Released May 13, 2016

There’s a lot to say about the economy. Especially in recent years, the general consensus is that it’s an unstable entity that is only made more volatile by manipulative and self-promoting actions taken by those with plenty of it who feel a burning desire to make more. Predictably, people get hurt, and there are outcomes that can’t be reversed. “Money Monster,” a flashy new film with three high-profile stars involved, dramatizes one potential implication as a man who believes that he has been misled by those in power and ruined his life in the process and is determined to make someone pay.

Lee Gates (George Clooney) is the host of a television show that serves as this film’s title in which he analyzes the economy and gives stock tips to viewers. The extent of his ridiculousness is made clear in the film’s opening scenes as Lee is seen dancing on stage with elaborate costumes and flanked by two dancing women, emphasizing the nature of his show as sensational and difficult to be taken seriously. He is guided and kept in line by his longtime producer Patty (Julia Roberts), who is forced to think fast to try to keep him alive when a disgruntled viewer (Jack O’Connell) shows up in the middle of a live taping with a bomb and a score to settle with the man who encouraged him to invest his life savings in a bad stock.

This is a film that stars two of the biggest and most well-known actors around and is directed by an actress who has now become a respected director. They all won Oscars for extremely dramatic roles that represent the higher tier of films in their respective genres. Clooney, Roberts, and Jodie Foster would seem like the perfect team to tackle a premise like this, especially on the heels of the success of “The Big Short” and the American intellectual public’s apparent craving for someone to blame for the country’s economic woes. While this film is undeniably engaging, it’s hardly the cinematic masterpiece that it could have been. The characters are too broadly drawn and the dialogue is uninspired, and while the film may have lofty ideas about the message it wants to send, it doesn’t convey them in the most technically competent way. Clooney is a capable talker and the versatile O’Connell does his best to make the human villain of the story credible, but as one member of the screening audience said while walking out behind me, this is a film that audiences will love and critics will hate. I can’t say I hated it, but this is a piece of entertainment much more than it is a quality film.


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