The Big Short: economics with humor. There were a few individuals who accurately predicted the 2007 economic collapse. This is their story. Opening like a documentary film, cheap the directorial brilliance of Adam McKay is in using celebrities to explain the often convoluted machinations of Wall Street. Starting with Anthony Bourdain, who uses an analogy involving three day old fish, and Selena Gomez at a Black Jack table, lingo like “CDO” (collateralized debt obligation) is marvelously done. The first person we meet who notices the housing bubble and realizes that it will crash is Michael Burry played by Christian Bale, a hedge fund manager who was educated as a neurologist.
In 2005, Dr. Burry correctly predicted that the bubble would burst during the second quarter of 2007. As he listens to heavy metal at full volume, Burry deciphers the signs and recognizes the economic fraud that is occurring. Then we meet investor Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling), who learns that Burry is creating a market to short the credit default swap investments. Through a misplaced phone call, Vennett connects with Wall Street trader Mark Baum (Steve Carell) who deserves an oscar nod for his performance. It is at this point that the film takes off.
Two young investors, Jamie Shipley (John Magaro) and Charlie Geller (Finn Wittrock) appear on the scene. They find Vennett’s investment flyer and bring retired banker Ben Rickert (Brad Pitt) to the table. Rickert has the capital to short credit default swaps. It is Pitt’s character who delivers the lines which remind us that while these few individuals were making millions upon millions, millions more of us ordinary folk lost our jobs and our homes due to this massive Wall Street fraud.
The film is based on Michael Lewis’ book by the same name. This is the second time Pitt has successfully connected with a story by Lewis, the first one being Moneyball. Adam McKay, who co-wrote the screenplay and directed this masterpiece, should receive Oscar nominations for both jobs. I use the term “masterpiece” because while this film involves very technical discussions concerning Wall Street investment concepts and a plethora of technical terms, it never loses the audience. In fact, you will be laughing even as you realize the full scope of the fraud that goes unchecked. If only the reality was as enjoyable as this 130 minute film. This is a must see film for anyone who wants an entertaining education as to why there was a 2007 crash.