The Big Short

Film, Drama
4 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars
(28user reviews)
The Big Short

An all-star cast join 'Anchorman' director Adam McKay to revisit the roots of the credit crunch – and learn how some crafty souls got filthy rich

They’re not exactly the Fellowship of the Ring. One guy, real-life ex-hedge fund manager Michael Burry (Christian Bale, with near-Aspergian intensity), blares heavy metal out of his office as he analyses the paperwork of thousands of failing home loans. Another guy, our narrator, Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling, on fire), yells his colleagues out of the executive toilets. A third, investment consultant Mark Baum (Steve Carell), steals cabs from more patient New Yorkers as he hustles his way to high-pressure meetings.

And yet, in this subversive, riotous movie, these men are our heroes (of a sort). They are among the few who predicted the 2008 financial collapse in America years in advance. They’re an extremely unpleasant bunch to build a movie around. As chronicled in Michael Lewis’s 2010 bestseller (on which the script is based), they all made a killing betting against the banks, while billions in pensions and savings went up in smoke.

Still, it’s impossible not to be swept up by their Cassandra-in-the-wilderness craziness. Almost half-heartedly, ‘The Big Short’ reminds us – via a beardy Brad Pitt playing an eco-conscious trader – that millions of lives will be ruined. Mostly, though, the movie’s a sick thrill, a toast to the douchebags.

Director Adam McKay is the man behind movies like ‘Anchorman’. More than any filmmaker who’s taken on this subject to date, he sees the banking crisis as a shriek of ego, which it was. He brings on the smirking agents who sold multiple homes to strippers. Then he brings on the strippers and the crocodile that now lives in the abandoned swimming pool. McKay’s zaniness has a precedent: like Stanley Kubrick’s ‘Dr Strangelove’, ‘The Big Short’ is a gleeful tumble toward the apocalypse – except in this case, it actually happened. Some of the ideas here are fuzzy. But when a Hollywood comedy turns the crime of the century into a satisfying lark, you know a huge gamble has been won. 

By: Joshua Rothkopf

Posted:

Release details

Rated:
15
Release date:
Friday January 22 2016
Duration:
130 mins

Cast and crew

Director:
Adam McKay
Screenwriter:
Adam McKay, Charles Randolph
Cast:
Brad Pitt
Finn Wittrock
Christian Bale
Steve Carell
Ryan Gosling
Marisa Tomei
John Magaro

Average User Rating

3.9 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:6
  • 4 star:16
  • 3 star:4
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:1
LiveReviews|28
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1 of 1 found helpful

The only thing that grates about this film is the fact that these guys all made mega-bucks out of the financial collapse of 2008. Presenting them as (somewhat) heroes doesn't quite sit right, given that they profited hugely from this. Nonetheless, the acting from the all-star cast is superb. Steve Carrell in particular manages to shake off Michael Scott, and become an odd, unnervingly warming trader who refuses to go with the flow. Ryan Gosling is also great, and the film itself is interesting in the insights it delivers. The funniest moment is when they get Margot Robbie and Selena Gomez to explain the intricate details of these financial deals - made the whole cinema laugh!

tastemaker

Great cast, fab film. An interesting take on a fairly serious subject, approached with just the right amount of humour. Very entertaining - definitely worth a watch. 

Tastemaker

This movie is okay, I guess. It is interesting enough and does make you see the difference between fiction and reality. But feels too soft in my opinion- all of them moralizing about what they have done at the end. I don't think they would have cared considering the amount of money they made. However it is an interesting watch. 

Tastemaker

This is an enjoyable film.

The subject matter is complicated, dull and depressing. However the directing is fresh and clever. The script is witty and surprising. The cast is excellent and they all put in great performances.

I had read some very good reviews of the movie and could not imagine how the subject matter or the storyline could be entertaining to so many people so regularly. Right from the start the director grabs your attention - and with inventive twists and funny scenarios keeps you interested.

I did feel that they were talking down to me on occasion, but at least, they did it with a sense of humour.

If you want a movie to tell you how the housing bubble worked, this one will keep you entertained while it does.


Tastemaker

If you're unsure about just what happened in 2008, let Ryan Gosling enlighten you. No, well it's not quite that straight forward but this is an entertaining and yet maddening look at the US financial crash. There are at least four groups of disruptors that overlap from time to time, and for me the hardest part was working out how they fit together. You'll be discussing this at the pub afterwards!

Tastemaker

I came away from this film and purchased the book straight away. I liked how the film gave detailed explanations of prime and sub prime so I was able to understand the trading in more detail! Ryan gosling did not shine in this role for me - I really enjoyed Steve carrell's performance!

Tastemaker

Even if you’re completely uninterested in the world of finance and trading, go see this film! It is brilliantly cast and exceptionally well acted by all. Ryan Gosling is also a huge plus!

The excellent direction helps you understand the financial jargon and breaks it down into layman's terms and rather comically so too.


This film does a great job of explaining the way the banking crash happened, and in an entertaining way. All the central characters are amoral in betting billions on 'shorts', bets that stocks would fall and ever-elaborate pyramid-selling & insurance schemes, and whether or not they have any moral qualms they still take their big payoff on what becomes the collapse of the whole capitalist world in a Faustian bargain. All of the lead actors play different bankers very well, driven in different ways to amass the same loadsamoney for themselves and their companies and to hell with the social consequences. A great portrayal of how the untrammelled American Dream in many of its facets heads pell-mell to social disaster. Who says that housing is safe as houses? (Got me worried now!) The directing is a cut above the ordinary and Adam McKay pulls some lovely and unexpected flourishes out of the bag. Well worth seeing!


Excellent exposé of the madness and downright criminality that created the financial crash of 2007-2008. The script scintillates, the acting is effervescent, and what a story...truth really is crazier than fiction. Well deserving of an Oscar for best adapted screenplay. And bravo to Brad Pitt for his determination to bring this story to our screens. 

Tastemaker

This film is very entertaining and fast paced and it was great to see another perspective of the 2008 crash. However, although I would consider myself quite well read and informed about the topic, it can be hard to keep up and understand all of the terminology. The film makers have included some random scenes of Margot Robbie and Selena Gomez explaining some terms, but they came off a bit awkward sometimes.

I would recommend watching the film, it's fun and informative if that combination isn't too weird!

Tastemaker

Loved this film. The problem with movies of this nature (Wolf of Wall Street, I'm looking chiefly at you) is that the public are usually treated like hideously unintelligent, uncurious, poorly read simpletons and the facts behind events of this nature are never explained in detail to us poor basic civilians. The Big Short manages to explain the nuances of CDOs/CDSs/CMOs/subprime mortgages, etc..., and the events causing the mass exposure of these financial instruments and the banks behind them, with clarity and at a pace which keeps you hooked for the whole 2 hours. It also manages to do this without scrimping on information and without dumbing down the whole financial crisis or treating the audience like idiots. This is an achievement in itself given that most of banks dealing in these things didn't really have a clue what was going on themselves!  Bravo. Great cast, great script, funny, informative, gripping. This is the best thing I've seen in the cinema for a while.



Tastemaker

Entertaining, funny, dramatic, brilliant, interesting story and food for thought about how the housing market works and what happened back in 2007 that 3 different groups of people realised a couple of years before it occurred. Christian Bale performs great in this unusual role for him and so does Steve Carell. An all-star movie worth watching, be prepared for a lot of information though, at least they get Margot Robbie and Selena Gomez to explain some financial terms in simple words, and that's where you will laugh.

tastemaker

So they took an awkward, boring topic and made it gritty, intense, witty and full of comedy.


Fast paced and reminds me a lot of Wolf Of Wall Street, your morals will be challenged!


Cast is excellent!


The one thing required to explain something in internationally understood format is a simplified concept that anyone from any country can understand.  At least once the subtitles explained something as " ... like the something ... blah ...[some US reference] ... blah".  And while you're trying to figure what that means, you've then lost the next point, meaning you're a little lost/behind.  Hmmmm.  However, the placing bets on bets explanation was superbly demonstrated, and very worrying that it was allowed to happen.

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Funnily enough, the film gets better after about the 1hr 15mins mark, when the two guys who set up a hedging fund from a garage have been introduced into the story, along with retired banker (played by Pitt).

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As a film, with humour, it works.  Gosling, Pitt, and all, act well.  I can't see it'll win award.  It just wasn't simplified enough (though genuinely shocking at how corrupt the system is):  It was boring in places.  I thought Moody's, and Standard & Poor's rating agencies came out of it worst of all.  Being prepared to rate a company highly because they might otherwise lose their fees to the competitors was shocking.

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Personally, I preferred the 2010 "The Inside Job" - film/documentary - the graphics and explanations on that were suprior to The Big Short.  5/10 (or two stars).
Tastemaker

Brilliant movie - everybody go and watch it! It's funny, gripping and the story is told really well, plus learn a lot about the financial crisis, in a not at all boring and really easy to understand way! What's not to like? Oh and also the acting of the whole cast from Christian Bale to Steve Carrell is superb!

Tastemaker

An excellent film. Extremely entertaining, whilst also being very informative about an issue that people should understand but often do not. The financial jargon is very clearly and entertainingly explained through out the film, and the acting is high quality. Well worth watching for a couple of hours entertainment, and also a greater insight into the underlying reasons for the crash in 2008. 


I found this comedy about the financial crisis totally involving in the moment, and I learned something too about complicated financial instruments - but it leaves a strange taste in the mouth. Are they meant to be heroes, these guys, just because they're renegades and were able to predict the 2008 crash? They're still all in it for self-gain.



The star of this film is the hair. Christian Bale -  strange haircut, Ryan Gosling - excellent dye job, Steve Carrell - floppy barnet, Brad Pitt - Just lots and lots of it. Go and see it for that if nothing else.


Its a film about a difficult and hard to understand subject but luckily they realise this and help you to understand enough to know how big a shit everyone actually is. Its a film without good guys and bad guys just dicks and opportunists so at times it is very hard to know if you are actually meant to be rooting for anyone.


Good to get the (sort-of) truth about the financial crash out there, but the film is incredibly pleased with itself in a uniquely American, grating sort of way. Good performances and lots of decent gags, but if this wins Best Picture it'd be a shocker - can't imagine anyone wanting to revisit it in 10 years.


Maybe I have never seen a movie about a more complicated subject, and been so entertained. Well made, well acted… but full of so much jargon that most people will get by on just the gist. The best bits by far are the 4th wall-breaking, to camera moments where various C list celebrities explain complicated banking terms, obviously where Adam McKay (director of Anchorman and The Other Guys) is flexing his comedy muscles. Go see it for the hair styles alone.


best movie i saw for ages educational and shocking too. great acting , great script, funny too

Tastemaker

This movie is incredibly interesting and has an amazing cast behind it, I enjoyed the way they incorporate comedy into something so serious which greatly facilitates the experience for the viewer. The only problem that I encountered was that it was very hard to follow at times, even when they simplified the terms it was difficult to understand them in context and even more so when they were used together.

Tastemaker

I have really mixed feelings about this film - hence only 3 stars. 


On the one hand it makes a really dry complicated subject pretty interesting and entertaining. One the other, it's in poor taste  - the world economy collapsing, millions in misery - the lack of financial regulation - total collusion in the finance industry are not things we should be entertained by - they are appalling! Equally, I realise if it had been done in a documentary or other more traditional format - I personally wouldn't have watched it nor would loads of others. So it is spreading the word and educating after a fashion.


 I also think it doesn't properly explain the central theme deal of 'the big short' - which seems strange and the cynical part of me sees as manipulative. The performances are great and characters perfectly captured - but as I see it the 'heroes' of this movie - the ones who spotted what was happening, are only really clever and opportunistic because they sought (and in fact did) profit from the bank's terrible behaviour - how is this something admirable?  All in all I felt quite queasy and uncomfortable watching the film and at times belly laughing! 


My other bug bear is whilst it is a telling of a 'real' story the casting perpetuates the 'whiteout' issue being highlighted at this years Oscars. The film makers have taken all sorts of dramatic and comic liberties in how they tell the story - having some diverse and colour blind casting would have fit perfectly with that vibe.


On balance I would recommend seeing it but with a health degree of scepticism and a questioning mind - which maybe is what they were out to achieve? 

tastemaker

This was such a great film, a little hard to follow with the way it flitted between commentary, still shots and movie scenes - but I really loved the way complex financial products were described using simple examples such as Jenga. It made it so much easier to understand. The mix of comedy and drama really brought such a sad and powerful truth to life in the best way possible.

Tastemaker

There are many things to admire about 'The Big Short' – a tight & well written script based on true events, several perfectly sound-tracked montages that mark the passing of time, Ryan Gosling's inexplicable love affair with both St. Tropez fake tan & mid 90's perming solution – but for the me, the biggest was that this film turns out to be very definitely and very confidently both a comedy & a horror.


Dry & comedic scenes come thick & fast which is unsurprising considering director Adam McKay was responsible for 'Anchorman', 'Stepbrothers' and 'The Other Guys' but they are paired with moments which will leave you both genuinely fearful for the lack of respect banks have for your money and incredulous with rage that it a) happened at all or b), if the post-film, pre-credits scene is to be believed, it's already begun to happen again.


The movie follows 3 groups of men – I found Steve Carell & Ryan Gosling's the best in terms of both performances given and character development to watch – who are all aiming to make as many millions as they can off an imminent housing economy crisis as predicted by Christian Bale's odd & emotionally stunted Dr. Michael Burry. Financial jargon isn't dumbed down to TOWIE level but cameos by Margot Robbie & Selena Gomez among others ensure you can follow what's going on without needing to Wikipedia every other piece of terminology used.


Carell, who began to shed his 'gross-out-comedy-actor' tag in 2014's 'Foxcatcher', continues to demonstrate his skill as one of the most exciting dramatic actors working today while Gosling is on fine, flashy & quick-fire form in his best role since 'Crazy Stupid Love' and a superb supporting cast includes an always excellent Rafe Spall and 'New Girl's Max Greenfield who delivers a brilliant turn as a nauseatingly hilarious mortgage broker.


There are moments of real poignancy including a man who pays his rent on time but is unable to prevent his landlord from defaulting leaving him helpless through no fault of his own and for me, it was things like that which really drove home how completely un-necessary the whole crash was. You find yourself unknowingly rooting for those who are trying to teach the banks a lesson by taking their money away from them yet it takes a short, sharp admonition from bearded & bespectacled Brad Pitt to shock you back into reality, which is if those guys win, it's not just the banks that fail, it's everyone and the jobs, houses & lives of everyone who ever put a penny into their bank will change. Certainly makes you think putting a jar under the bed might not be a bad way to save for the future...


Tastemaker

Great cast and very entertaining for the type of story they want to tell.

I have to say that I really enjoyed the movie and I that I now understand a bit more of what caused the worldwide financial crisis.

Special enjoyed how they explain complicated things with very 'interesting and simple' examples. :)


I must see!