Dumb Money, a comedy-drama directed by Craig Gillespie (of “I Tonya” and “Cruella” fame) draws inspiration from the Ben Mezrich book “The Antisocial Network”. It’s based on the true story (and not in that fake horror movie kinda way) where an online Reddit community rallies together to take on big league Wall Street investors. 

I’m not a financial whiz myself, but most financial whizzes aren’t’ very good movie reviewers, so I’ll attempt to summarize the movie as best I can. – Billionaire hedge funds bet against a faltering GameStop, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy whereby it is almost certain to fail. In response, regular Joe retail investors bind together to invest in GameStop, causing its value to unexpectedly rise. Cue mass mayhem in the financial world. 

Paul Dano takes the lead as Keith Gill, the leader of the rebellious movement, and does a fine job as the unlikely financial guru. Other roles of various hedge fund billionaires and low-level investors are filled by an impressive ensemble of familiar names and faces one would instantly recognize, if possibly struggle to match together during the picture round of a table quiz. Barely a scene goes by without a pleasant surprise, as Ron from Parks and Recreation, or Betty from Ugly Betty pops up, very much adding to the overall enjoyment of the picture. 

Dumb Money is clearly tailored to the Millennial/Gen Z audience, with much of the, for lack of a better word, action taking place by digital means, whether it be over the phone, zoom calls, or Reddit posts, etc. Surprisingly, it never dawned on me until the end of the movie that many major players never actually share the screen. Yet, this disjointed nature never detracts from the films impact. 

Where the movie excels is its ability to evoke strong emotions in the absence of traditional action. It manages to achieve bigger laughs than most regular comedies (usually down to the perfectly cast Pete Davidson as Gill’s wise cracking brother) and edge-of-your-seat suspense that surpasses many modern horror films. It’s a testament to the power of how a good story, told well, can outshine even the most expensive visual effects laden blockbusters (I’m looking at you Marvel). 

When billionaires launch their eventual counterattack against the Reddit community, I felt like an over-zealous wrestling fan who had to be reminded that what he’s watching isn’t actually real. Then again, it’s based on a true story, so maybe it is?

All in all, Dumb Money offers a smart choice (I’m sure every review will use some version of this joke) for a night out at the cinema. A “Wall Street” (1987) for the digital age, it provides a welcome departure from the over-budgeted, CGI heavy, multi-universe superhero stories. Dumb Money is a well directed, well acted, and thoroughly entertaining, seamlessly weaving witty comedy and riveting suspense for an all-round enjoyable viewing experience. 

4 stars out of 5

  • Directed by: Craig Gillespie
  • Written by: Lauren Schuker,Blum, Rebecca Angelo, Ben Mezrich
  • Starring: Paul Dano, Pete Davidson, Vincent D’Onofrio, America Ferrera.
  • Run Time: 1hr 45min
  • Budget: $30,000,000 est.
  • Rated: R (US) | 18 (IE, UK)
  • Released: Sept 15th, 2023 (US) | Sept 22nd, 2023 (IE, UK)

Review by Ross McCarthy, Dublin based screenwriter and stand-up comedian.

Dumb Money Trailer