The Big Short turns a thorny, difficult-to-understand subject into high entertainment. If you haven’t heard already, it's a black comedy covering the events leading up to the stock market crash of 2008, which is both tragic and hard to digest unless you’re an economics whiz at the top of your game. To comprehend the intricacies of its fiscal details is next-to-impossible for the average viewer. While the film is attentive to audience members who likely don’t understand what the hell is going on (hilariously using Margot Robbie, Anthony Bourdain, and Selena Gomez to break the fourth wall in an attempt to clearly explain Wall Street terminology), The Big Short is less about information-spewing and more about the dramatic occurrences, the quick-witted exchanges, that took place before its climax.
The Big Short begins in 2005, where Michael Burry (Christian Bale), an eccentric fund manager, stumbles on inconsistencies in the housing market, where it appears that several mortgages have fraudulent
qualities. Convinced the market will collapse sometime around the end of 2007, he creates a credit default swap system with big banks that will leave them penniless and him victorious. Unaware that he might actually be right, deals are made without a hint of doubt. Regret will come later.
Time goes on. We're introduced to several individuals who become as aware of the looming financial disaster. One is Mark Baum (Steve Carell), the abrasive manager of FrontPoint Capital. Others are Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling), a confident Deutsche Bank salesman, Charlie Gellar (John Magaro) and Jamie Shipley (Finn Wittrock), up-and-comers who could potentially make a sizable sum if they make all the right moves, and Ben Rickert (Brad Pitt), a Wall Street retiree assisting the latter two youths with their risky ambition.
While you might not be leaving The Big Short with a clear idea of its economics, you'll still have a better sense of the trials and tribulations that went down before and after the 2007-2008 financial soap opera. You'll likely be frightened by the ignorance of Wall Street heavyweights of the time but electrified by the barbs written by Adam McKay (who also directs) and Charles Randolph, and the stylish, fourth-wall-breaking presentation. For revolving around such a serious topic, The Big Short is more so an iniquitous comedy than anything. It turns out that McKay, making his first serious film after years of helming laugh-a-minute Will Ferrell collaborations, is
multidimensionally funny. B+