The Big Short Surprises In A Good Way

Upon hearing Adam McKay, director of Anchorman and The Other Guys, would be taking the reins of The Big Short to film a story on the Global Financial Crisis, many expected another exaggerated comedy romp like The Wolf of Wall Street.

The trailers didn’t do a lot to dissuade that opinion either, featuring strippers and Christian Bale going crazy on a drum kit, but in reality The Big Short is a surprisingly sombre affair that keeps the humour dark for the most part, relying on the charisma of Ryan Gosling, returned after two years out of acting, and celebrity cameos from Margot Robbie and Selena Gomez to lighten it up every once in a while.

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Margot Robbie simplifies some complex content. Credit:

Based on the best-selling book by Michael Lewis, The Big Short tells the true story of the men who saw the impending crash of the economy and bet on it happening, ‘shorting’ the big banks and the American economy. Despite the popularity of Anchorman, Step Brothers, and The Other Guys this is without doubt McKay’s biggest achievement to date. Somehow he manages to sway between telling an entertaining and funny story, and telling a very serious and depressing one. There are times when you think it’s all going to topple over, much like the housing market did, but he manages to keep it upright. While not entirely balanced, I challenge anyone to do a better job with the content and premise.

Although Ryan Gosling’s character narrates the film and often breaks the fourth wall, it is Steve Carell’s Mark Baum who is the focus of the film. It is him we learn the most about and through him we see the bigger picture. One scene is particular is so far from being funny you’d think it was a different movie. Brad Pitt’s cameo is also very powerful, delivering a timely message strong enough to sober up any celebration.

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For those who were too young or not paying attention in 2007-08, The Big Short is thoroughly informative and it’s shocking to see just how fraudulent the banks were, shooting themselves in the foot and taking the American public down with them. It also manages to entertain and operate at a fast pace, although the celebrity cameos don’t provide the utter levity McKay may have been hoping for. The acting is superb despite the strange haircuts, especially Bale and Carell who manage to make us forget we’re looking at Bale and Carell, they inhabit their characters superbly.

Is it worthy of it’s best picture nomination? Maybe, it’s definitely important enough.