It wasn’t all that long ago when we were reading news about GameStop and the wild “David vs. Goliath” story involving Keith Gill and a group of everyday people who decided to invest in the video game retailer and cause quite the commotion on Wall Street. Well, now there's a movie about it. Directed by Cruella and I, Tonaya’s Craig Gillespie and starring Paul Dano the film Dumb Money is set to his theaters on September 29 according to the 2023 movie schedule, and critics have seen it, and shared their thoughts on it.
CinemaBlend's own Sean O’Connell shared his opinion on Dumb Money via X, noting that it’s a “smart” film that makes a very complex stock market story “digestible.” He also explained the tension that builds throughout the film as it tells the wild story of what happened with GameStop’s stock in 2021 is "terrifying" and "palpable":
I thought DUMB MONEY was incredibly smart. It makes complicated stock market dealings very digestible, and puts several relatable human faces on the GameStop phenom. The palpable tension of 'Sell or Hold' is about a terrifying as cinema gets. Get to this one! #TIFF23
Overall, the general consensus of Dumb Money seems to be that it’s an electrifying movie about the truly crazy GameStop situation. Many critics highlighted the ensemble cast and direction as highlights. However, some noted that at times the characters could feel “one-dimensional,” as Frank Scheck wrote for THR. But, he, and many others, thoroughly enjoyed the movie. Continuing his review, the critic explained:
Nonetheless, it’s a compelling story told in largely engaging fashion, anchored by Dano’s terrific turn as the eccentric, strong-willed Gill, who becomes an unlikely folk hero. Dumb Money (the title refers to the funds invested in the market by individual investors) should strike a chord with people fascinated by the financial world, which seems pretty much everyone these days. As no less an esteemed figure than Anthony Scaramucci puts it in one of the clips shown, this chain of events was “the French Revolution of finance,” and it’s fun watching the peasants win for a change.
During Collider’s coverage of the Toronto International Film Festival, where Dumb Money premiered, Ross Bonaime shared his review of Craig Gillespie’s film, calling it the “The Big Short for the Reddit Generation,” in his headline. He noted the similarities it shares with films like The Big Short and The Social Network, explaining that this film about GameStop's stock both fits in with types of projects like that while also being totally unique:
Dumb Money is a mostly smart handling of a major recent event. While it builds off the type of storytelling utilized in The Big Short and The Social Network, Gillespie, [Screenwriters Lauren Blum and and Rebecca Angelo's] exploration of a group makes this feel unique in its own way. In this David vs. Goliath battle, the film gives hope that change on a large scale could be possible and does this in a charming, entertaining narrative with a great cast from top to bottom.
Natalia Winkelman from IndieWire also agreed that Dumb Money is a “weirdly affecting tale of working class solidarity.” She called it “the best period piece ever made about a period that just happened." The critic was especially pleased with the ensemble cast of the film -- which includes America Ferrera, Pete Davidson, Seth Rogen and many more -- and how they played out the roles of those who were actually involved with this bonkers story:
Each member of this ensemble is fully drawn and thoroughly appealing. Much of the credit goes to the film’s stellar cast: America Ferrera and Larry Owens mesh entertainingly as staff at a hospital; Anthony Ramos plays a knowledgable GameStop employee; and I’d watch an entire spinoff season featuring Myha’la Herrold and Talia Ryder as a winsome couple attending the University of Texas at Austin, where they spend their days lounging in the dorm or sharing videos on TikTok.
As she stated, America Ferrera, Larry Owens and Anthony Ramos stand out as highlights alongside Paul Dano, who plays the lead Keith Gill.
Speaking of Dano, Martin Aubert Tsai wrote a review for Decider that spotlighted the actor as a real standout. He applauded The Batman star's ability to juggle both Keith Gill’s personal life and online persona as Roaring Kitty:
Dano gives a standout turn. In addition to portraying Gill in his daily life and interactions with family members such as his wife, Caroline (Shailene Woodley), and brother, Kevin (Pete Davidson), he also uncannily replicates some of Roaring Kitty’s streaming sessions and Gill’s congressional testimony. Those moments truly shine, as they demonstrate the tightrope act of delivering a performance within a performance. Anyone who has tuned into these livestreams with regularity will immediately recognize how pitch perfect Dano is in those scenes.
It sounds like we’re going to have to add Dumb Money to the list of Paul Dano’s best movies.
Along with praise for the cast, critics have also noted Craig Gillespie’s direction. After receiving fantastic reviews for I, Tonya in 2017, it turns out he has a knack for taking on complex true stories in a unique way. In BBC’s review, Caryn James touched on this idea. While she thought the film was “not as smart or skewering as it pretends to be,” she did note the standout direction as a highlight:
As Gillespie demonstrated with I, Tonya, he has a feel for the texture of working-class lives and hopes, depicted with sympathy and not a whiff of condescension. That approach is put to good use here.
Overall, reviews for Dumb Money have been positive, and many critics noted that the film is a fascinating period piece about an event that only happened a few years ago. You can see this crazy story about GameStop and the everyday people who tried to game Wall Street in theaters on September 29.