One of my least favorite things about the end of the year is the vast amount of Oscar bait movies that come out and since I’m home for the holidays, I usually end up getting dragged to one or two of them by a family member even though they know I have no interest in seeing that particular film. Sometimes I get lucky and the movie is good or just tolerable to sit through, but for the first time in a long time, I have come across a movie that I not only hated, it angered me to my core. That movie is none other than The Big Short.
Directed by Adam McKay, The Big Short is based on the true story of the men who predicted the credit and housing collapse of the mid-2000s and how they reacted to this event by trying to take on the big banks screwing everyone over.
I was going to save my first official movie review for something else but this is the first movie in a long time to affect me this way emotionally. I just feel like I need to vent and rid myself of these negative emotions.
The Big Short is not only the worst move that I have seen this year…it is one of the worst movies that I have seen in a long time.
I have no interest in business or banking. If done correctly, the writers, cast, and director can turn a boring topic like this into a interesting one that will engage you for the rest of the movie. This film did not do that. I spent a good portion of the beginning of the film trying to figure out what everyone was talking about. All they talk about is business and it’s boring. They try to break it up with comedy every once in a while but most of the time their attempts fall flat. To make it easier to explain these subjects for the audience, Ryan Gosling narrates to the audience Ferris Bueller-style or one of the other characters interrupts the story and talks directly to the audience briefly. There’s even a few Family Guy-like cutaways to a random celebrity like Margot Robbie, some chef, or Selena Gomez for some reason as they try to explain an aspect of business or trading to us in the way a documentary would. In fact, this whole film feels like it was supposed to be a documentary but was altered to be a movie instead. A good chunk of this feels like they just put stock footage or images pulled off Google in the movie to fill up time. About a quarter or so in I just gave up and waited for this to end as I constantly checked the time on my phone. People were getting up from their seats and leaving the theater. I wanted to join them.
The movie is everywhere tonally. Is it trying to be a comedy? A serious drama? A dark comedy? A documentary? Make up your mind! When the plot calls for a serious and/or emotional moment out of nowhere very loud and obnoxious rock music fills the screen whenever something “funny” or important is supposed to be happening. The film should be making me feel bad that people are going to lose their homes, but no, they need to do something really stupid like make a cringe-worthy joke at the worst time or have Christian Bale’s character play music like someone left the sound on their headphones at max and then forgot to turn them down.
Aside from the stock footage, most or all of this looks as though it was filmed with hand-held cameras. It looks terrible. The screen is always moving and is occasionally out of focus. I don’t know if this was an intended style choice or what, but man was it a really bad decision. At one point there’s even an out of nowhere jump scare. With that and the loud music playing throughout, a part of me wonders if the filmmakers added those in because they knew that the audience would fall asleep watching this.
The only thing I can say that I did like was the acting…of at least one person. Everyone was fine in the film, given the bad material to work with, but they just didn’t appeal to me as much as Steve Carell’s character did. I felt like there was real emotion there and that whenever he was on screen something important was happening even though I didn’t understand most of his dialogue. Sadly that is only a piece of this larger puzzle that is put together poorly. I know that Christian Bale’s character was important because he was the one to notice the crash first and his actions started a ripple effect that the others eventually caught on to, but other than that he feels ultimately unnecessary and offered nothing but a constant distraction. Brad Pitt’s storyline with actors Finn Wittrock and John Magaro? Totally uninteresting and feels like filler. The worst though has to be Ryan Gosling’s character. I know he’s important to the story for Steve Carell’s character, but my God did they have to make him such a cartoon? He feels like a caricature of a stereotypical corporate douchebag that it comes off as painful more than funny. It also doesn’t help that we spend most of the movie listening to his narcissistic narration. Maybe if they cut out everyone else or gave them smaller parts and focused more on Steve Carell’s character, this could have possibly been a better film instead of something that felt like it was most likely made just to get one of them an Oscar nomination.
The Big Short is just plain awful. It’s a complete boring mess that fails to be dramatic, funny, interesting, or entertaining. Save yourself the time and money and go watch something else that won’t be forgotten in a few months after the awards season.
I hate to give a number rating on a movie because I feel like whatever number I give will not adequately convey my true thoughts on that film.
If I had to give one for The Big Short though, I guess a 2 out 10 will suffice.