A few weeks ago I had the privilege of attending an early screening of the upcoming movie “The Big Short.”
I’m not a movie critic, and I don’t typically write reviews, but given how closely related the film’s contents are to the topics we have covered on this blog over the last ten years, I do want to share my thoughts and reactions to the movie.
When I started this site in 2005, I was a complete outsider to the world of real estate, finance, banking, and Wall Street. And yet, even I could immediately tell that something was incredibly wrong with the market and the overall economy that was building into an ever-increasing frenzy on the back of housing.
Given that I was starting from zero, it took me a few years to understand all of the underlying financial fraud that enabled everything to get so out of hand. In hindsight, I wish that I had made some big short bets in the years leading up to the collapse, but realistically I had neither the resources nor the knowledge to make a smart profit like that.
But there were some people who did.
Michael Lewis’ book “The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine” tells the story of a handful of traders whose skeptical nature and financial intelligence allowed them to see behind the curtain and make huge bets on the inevitable collapse of the entire house of cards. Director Adam McKay has turned Lewis’ book into an engaging and interesting movie with some big-name stars driving each of the film’s three concurrent storylines.
I’m definitely not an expert in mortgage-backed securities and collateralized debt obligations, but I probably know more about the movie’s topic than 90 percent of the Americans. In order to make the confusing and convoluted subject more approachable, McKay intersperses the three narratives with amusing fourth-wall-breaking interludes from Margot Robbie in a bubble bath, Anthony Bourdain making fish stew, and Selena Gomez and Dr. Richard Thaler playing blackjack at a casino to attempt to explain things with plain language and metaphors.
I suspect that the style and the subject matter of this movie won’t play well with general audiences, but I loved this movie. It was hilarious, depressing, touching, and infuriating all at the same time. The performances from all of the major characters were believable and relatable, and the story was compelling throughout the movie’s 130-minute run-time even though I knew exactly how it would end.
I hope I am wrong and “The Big Short” is a huge success at the box office, because in my opinion everyone should see this movie.
The Big Short hits theaters on December 23rd, but you have one more chance to see it for free on me.
There will be another free screening of The Big Short at Regal Thornton Place (Northgate) on Tuesday, December 15th at 7:00 PM. I won’t be able to attend it myself, but I have a limited number of tickets to give away to Seattle Bubble readers. If you would like to attend and can commit to be there, drop a comment in this thread. Tickets will be first-come, first-served. Just use a valid email address in the comment form (only I can see it) so I can contact you with details.
Update: All the tickets are spoken for! Thank you!