The Big Short Review
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Since the economic crisis of 2008, a number of films have tackled the topic, delving into everything from its causes to its aftermath. But none of those films have given the story the same kind of quirky yet surprisingly hard-hitting treatment as director Adam McKay’s The Big Short.

The Big Short explores the financial crisis by following the stories of some of the outsiders who predicted it. It all began with hedge fund manager Michael Burry (Christian Bale), who, in 2005, figured out that most mortgage bonds were primarily made up of subprime mortgages. Predicting that everything would come crashing down starting in 2007, he went to various lenders to invest in credit swaps, essentially betting against the bonds. And though the lenders laughed at him and his boss doubted him, a few others in the industry took notice—and decided to do the same.

For anyone who doesn’t work in finance (and probably for some who do, too), The Big Short is about as much fun as you’ll ever have while learning about the world of investment banking. With a guy who’s spent his career directing Will Ferrell at the helm, it’s no big surprise that this film is anything but dry and dull. It’s witty and sarcastic, gleefully throwing the usual filmmaking rules right out the window by breaking the sacred fourth wall to confess characters’ lies and half-truths—as well as its own use of artistic license.

Of course, that’s not to say that it’s a fluffy, brainless film. It doesn’t skim over the details to cut to the fun parts. Especially in the beginning, there’s a whole lot of financial jargon flying around. And with so many eccentric, fast-talking characters rattling off lines about credit swaps and CDOs, it can get pretty confusing. Fortunately, though, McKay manages to make it fun, using celebrity figures like Selena Gomez, Anthony Bourdain, and Margot Robbie (in a bubble bath, no less) to explain some of the terminology. And while some of it may still go zipping right over your head, some of it will actually stick.

Still, though the writing is clever and comical, the highlight of the film is its remarkable ensemble cast. From Bale as socially awkward Burry to Steve Carell as angry, outspoken Mark Baum, each member of this massive cast brings a different personality and a different perspective. And, together, they tell a story that’s just as eye-opening as it is entertaining.

With its energetic story and its sharp sense of humor, The Big Short is far from the typical award season drama. Unless you have a degree in finance, you probably won’t be able to keep up with all of it—but it definitely offers an amusing and thought-provoking look at the negligence, greed, and corruption that crashed the global economy.

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