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Money Monster is a new film directed by Jodie Foster starring Julia Roberts and George Clooney focusing on the collapse of the stock market and what lengths of desperation that it drove the general public to. Money Monster begins as a satire, but it devolves in a sentimental “root for the everyman” thriller without a clear explanation as to how it got there.
George Clooney plays Lee Gates, the animated host of the investment advice show “Money Monster”. Julia Roberts portrays his long-time director Patty Fenn. Soon after the show’s live broadcast begins airing, it is disrupted by a man named Kyle Budwell (Jack O’Connell) who carries with him a gun, an explosive vest, and huge grudge against Lee. Kyle explains that he received some bad stock advice from Lee a while ago, and it resulted him in losing his life’s savings. And Kyle demands answers. At first Patty and Lee go through the motions of finding information for Kyle in order to preserve their lives, but the digger they deep the more unclear the information becomes and the quest becomes to find out the truth.
The biggest flaw with Money Monster is the poor job it does of defining the relationship between Kyle and Lee. Lee is first presented in this films as self-centered megalomaniac who dances for the opening of his show, ignores cue cards, and frustrates Patty to the point where she decides to accept another job. Someone like that would not all of sudden feel sympathy for a character like Kyle without a lot if convincing. The “convincing” happens in one scene when Kyle is horribly berated on camera by his girlfriend. The audience is supposed to see that Kyle has a tough time at home and we are supposed to feel sorry for him; but all that scene did was present Kyle’s girlfriend as a horrible shrew and how could any human being stand to be around her. The film could have used a couple of scenes with some dramatic weight between Kyle and Lee, so the audience can have a better idea where Kyle’s anger came from.
There is a villain in this movie, Walt Camby (Dominic West) who is the CEO of IBIS, the company at the center of the controversy. The movie does explain what Walt did to lose all those people’s money, but if the writing was a little stronger, the audience can see why Walt made such a terrible business decision. Instead his character just exists as a person who is there to take the fall.
Another flaw with this film is that is feels several years too late. It would have been more effective it opened about four or five years ago when the United States was just starting to see end of its recession. Watching it in 2016, you cannot help but criticize Kyle for investing all of his money from a stock tip he received on a television show. Yes, he was desperate and he wanted to take a chance to grow his money, but we the audience knowing what we know now after many of us experiencing the catastrophe personally, cannot offer the kindest words.
Jack O’Connell who portrays Kyle, is a great actor, giving his all in every scene. But his character could have been more effective if he had a few more dramatic scenes that really illustrated his desperation. George Clooney and Julia Roberts are serviceable, but they are both solid actors with so much experience and chemistry, they basically just did their job.
Money Monster is not a bad movie, but due to the timely nature of the subject matter, the script could have used another rewrite to show how horrible the effects of the recession was on this country. Jodie Foster directed the film from a script carried elements of satire and light comedic tone, but as a person who experienced the effects of the recession greatly, those elements just did not work.