Dan's Review: Hypocrisy on parade in "Money Monster"
George Clooney and Jack O'Connell in Money Monster - © 2016 Sony Pictures
Money Monster (Sony/Columbia)
Rated R for language throughout, some sexuality and brief violence.
Starring George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jack O'Connell, Dominic West, Caitriona Balfe, Giancarlo Esposito, Christopher Denham, Lenny Venito, Chris Bauer, Dennis Boutsikaris, Emily Meade, Condola Rashad, Aaron Yoo, Carsey Walker Jr., Grant Rosenmeyer.
Written by Jamie Linde, Alan DiFiore, Jim Kouf.
Directed by Jodie Foster.
Rich people are sooooo evil, AmIright? Every last one of them At least that’s the sentiment coming out of the film industry these days. I used the word “industry” on purpose, since I find it ironic that a business funded and run by multi billion dollar corporations has chosen wealthy as their new “villain du jour.” It used to be Russians, Nazis, communists, guys in black hats and Snidely Whiplash. The class envy-driven “Occupy” movement, coupled with a nice, long recession has left us with the rich boogeyman, and the main antagonist in Money Monster, in theaters this weekend.
George Clooney stars as Lee Gates, the gonzo host of Money Monster, a Wall Street-oriented cable TV show in the spirit of CNBC’s “Mad Money” hosted by Jim Cramer. Director Jodie Foster, Clooney and other people associated with the film have succinctly claimed that they did not model Lee Gates or his Money Monster show on Cramer, which should prompt a lot of “BS coughs” from anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock for the past 8 years. In fact, the main plot point in Money Monster closely models the rage felt by many investors after the markets fell in 2007-09, and seems like a direct response to Jon Stewart’s takedown of Cramer in 2009.
Julia Roberts plays Patty, Money Monster’s TV director who calls the shots from the control room. One day, a gunman named Kyle (Jack O’Connell) sneaks onto the TV set in the middle of a show and holds Lee hostage, promising to blow him up unless someone gives him answers, as to why he lost $60,000 investing in tech conglomerate IBIS, headed by CEO Walt Camby (Dominic West). As the hostage situation plays out on live television, Lee works to calm Kyle by seeking answers from Camby, who has mysteriously disappeared after his company lost billions in what was described as a “computer glitch.”
In the meantime, police are sneaking around the TV studio looking for way to take Kyle out, as Patty works to get answers from IBIS PR flack Diane Lester (Caitriona Balfe), who, despite being Camby’s mistress, also grows a sudden conscience and works against him to get to the bottom if this “glitch” (yes, there is something sinister going on). The situation worsens when Lee begins to work with Kyle to move from the TV studio to IBIS’s front door in downtown NYC, where tensions mount to a final conclusion.
Money Monster is a sloppy, cliché-ridden mess that wavers between some kind of crime drama (i.e. Dog Day Afternoon) and corporate satire. Yes, there is some clever dialogue (at the expense of those darned rich folk), and erstwhile performances from Clooney and Roberts, but all of that is obscured by an implausible plot, technical ignorance and preachy message aimed at making people really, really angry about Wall Street.
Incidentally, Money Monster is brought to you by the Sony
Corporation, a little mom-and-pop outfit that only occasionally trades on Wall
Street, but probably not to make people rich or anything (cough). Yeah, I need
another lecture from the film industry about corporate greed like I need a
discourse on human rights violations from Pol Pot.
Money Monster Trailer