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There are very few films in the entire history of cinema that you walk out of feeling like a better-educated member of society while providing you with exceptional entertainment. The Big Short will do that for you.

 

The general consensus among economists is that the financial crisis of 2007-2008 was the worst since the Great Depression. This was one of the most, if not the most, economically significant event that has and will ever happen during our lifetime, yet many people don’t understand how and why something of this magnitude could happen. This is one of many ways that The Big Short strongly succeeds, by crafting a film that entertains and explains both the how and why so extremely well on a subject that is as complex as it is boring. In short, The Big Short is one of the best films of 2015 because of its unique approach in the retelling of a significant event that impacted all of us, while engaging, entertaining, and educating along the way.

The Big Short was directed and written by Adam McKay, a Hollywood funnyman and long-time friend of Will Ferrell. McKay is best known for his longtime partnership with Ferrell where the two teamed up to write comedic classics such as Anchorman, Talladega Nights, Step Brothers and The Other Guys. McKay directed and made brief cameo appearances in all these films, with Ferrell taking the on-screen leads. The two also founded the comedy website Funny or Die, and co-produced the HBO comedy series Eastbound & Down. McKay’s resume is packed with comedic gold and, while The Big Short is considered a dramatic comedy, it is much different than McKay’s past work.

One could very easily indulge in McKay’s past films, but they are simply not the types of films that would be nominated for an Academy Award. Step Brothers, for example, is a film one would see to have a great laugh and that is about all it has to offer. It has no historical relevance and no general theme that resonates with us. The Big Short is unique, and very relevant. The relevance intrigues us, but it is McKay’s ability to utilize creative techniques that keep us intrigued throughout the film’s duration. His ability to capitalize on breaking the fourth wall is probably the finest use of the technique that I have ever seen in a film. Especially since the world of banking uses a vocabulary that is meant to confuse the everyman, in order for them to seem smarter than they actually are, and it works. McKay uses scenes with celebrities like Margot Robbie and Selena Gomez to explain the supposedly complex world of banking in an extremely simplistic way that will make audience members have a few “AH-HA” moments. This is where The Big Short just works so well. There are very few films in the entire history of cinema that you walk out of feeling like a better-educated member of society while providing you with exceptional entertainment. The Big Short will do that for you.

Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, and Brad Pitt are all household names in Hollywood, and when those names are all attached to a movie, it tends to make people listen a little more. These guys are all phenomenal actors, and Brad Pitt even decided to help produce the film with his company Plan B Entertainment. The film takes an ensemble cast approach to the film with the plot jumping from the different perspectives of our main characters, although some tend to get more screen time than others. All of these characters in The Big Short have one thing in common: they are unique and eccentric individuals who love to take risks and have large amounts of confidence. It gives the audience a really good image of the types of people who work on Wall Street, in the cutthroat world of finance and banking. Bale, Carell, Gosling and Pitt are once again able to show the film industry why they are A-list actors. My personal favorite deals with the story of Jared Vennett who is played by Gosling and Mark Baum who is played by Steve Carell. This marks the third time that McKay has teamed up with Carell, the first two being the Anchorman flicks. This also marks the second time that Carell and Gosling have teamed up, and they do a fantastic job balancing one another out on screen. I personally think Carell and Gosling make a fantastic duo in films, and The Big Short just shows how well they are able to work together.

While watching The Big Short, I couldn’t help but compare it to the last movie I watched that dealt with the issue of corruption on Wall Street: The Wolf of Wall Street. Both films took a satirical approach to the corruption on Wall Street, and both films broke the fourth wall by directly addressing the audience. However, I believe The Wolf of Wall Street was too over-the-top in their satirical approach, and lost sight of what the story was really about. The Big Short does the exact opposite. It educates the audience instead of continuing on with absurd antics, and is still able to get the point across. The Big Short relies solely on its genuine and honest to goodness story rather than the theatrics and absurdity The Wolf of Wall Street uses. This is one of the reasons why I personally believe The Big Short is the best Wall Street movie to have ever been made so far, and why it is one of the best films of 2015.

The Big Short consists of an All Star cast, and a director in McKay who ventured out of his comfort zone for the first time and exceeded any and all expectations that were placed on him. This equation, in my mind, easily adds up to an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture. The film was flat out fantastic, and as I have echoed throughout, the theme of relevance plays an important role in why this movie is a must see. Audiences watch movies as a way to escape everyday life, but The Big Short doesn’t want you to escape. Instead, it wants you to go back to 2008 and relive this event, for very important reasons. They show us these real life characters who were able to predict this economic crisis before it happened, and make absurd amounts of money from it, which may seem like a pretty great situation in times of an economic crisis, right? These characters experience and witness first hand the corruption and evil that is present in the system, and how it truly eats at them, deep down into their souls. Even Mark Baum, who gets his biggest kicks from telling people “I told you so,” refuses to say it after the collapse of the economy even after he profits immensely from it. While this movie may not restore your faith in the economic system in America, it may restore your faith in some of the people who work in it every day. The Big Short shows you a side to the 2008 financial crisis from a perspective that not many people seemed to have known about before this film, and it is a perspective that must be seen, because it is not one that you will forget anytime soon.

 

Directed By: Adam McKay

Produced By: Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Arnon Milchan, Brad Pitt

Written By: Adam McKay, Charles Randolph

Starring: Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt

 

Distributed By: Paramount Pictures

Release Date: December 23, 2015

Run Time: 130 Minutes

Rating: R

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