Money Monster

We’ve all cringed at movie trailers, those pesky studio previews which have spawned from one-minute commercials into two-and-half minutes of spoiler reels.  Just as movie running times are getting longer and longer, so are the trailers promoting those films.  In today’s critical competition for box office dollars, promotional companies expend an entire film’s arsenal of laugh lines, suspense shots and plot twists in the trailer alone—leaving audiences letdown when all that’s left to see in the theater is bland background filler.  

Having recently watched the spoiler-rich “Money Monster” trailer from Academy Award-winning actress and now director Jodie Foster, I was not eager to watch this Wall Street corruption narrative unfold.  The previews told us everything: George Clooney’s character is an over-the-top, on-air television personality spewing Wall Street investment tips at the top of his lungs.  The movie’s calming influence falls to “Pretty Woman” Julia Roberts, as Clooney’s producer, who directs and de-escalates the TV set using her voice.  What else can this movie tell us?  A lot.

Continuing Hollywood’s fascination with Wall Street moguls instigating financial disasters through incompetence or greedy shenanigans, “Money Monster” pits one large corporation against a single, meager shareholder seeing red after a $60,000 investment loss. “Unbroken” (2014) star Jack O’Connell perfectly portrays a distraught and armed investor who has lost it all—based on the misguided advice of Clooney’s financial forecast. 

Between all the finger-pointing and stock quotes is a compelling story of anger and discontent directed at greedy individuals perpetrating fraud inside the financial district. Similar to last year’s Oscar-nominated best picture “The Big Short”, Foster presents this Wall Street train wreck in understandable terms. She deserves serious accolades for never letting this story dissolve solely into a money-counting movie experience.  Despite less than stellar police work in parts, “Money Monster” delivers a steady-paced thriller that only gets better by the minute. 

“Money Monster” wisely touches upon the viral nature of social media and the public’s laser-guided focus on potentially violent outcomes during live events. It’s comparison between the OJ Simpson Ford Bronco freeway perp chase and O’Connell’s walk along crowd-rousing Manhattan streets doesn’t go unnoticed.

Strong performances carry this brisk 90-minute film.  Clooney’s wack job persona gets more believable throughout the movie as his heart begins to thaw.  Although a simplistic financial formula, “Money Monster” achieves its portfolio goal—accountability for those responsible for the mismanagement of funds and loss of trust from others. But we knew that already…from the trailer.  Here’s my “Money Monster” investment advice: Go see the movie and not the trailer.

Grade: B

 

(Patrick King is a resident of Tucson and writer for the REEL BRIEF movie blog at www.reelbrief.com.  You may email him at reelbriefmoviereviews@mail.com)

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