The Big Short is an excellent movie. Who knew a movie about the housing bubble could be hysterical? This movie is frenetic, serious, comical, fast paced, irreverent, and brilliant in its scathing wit. Michael Lewis wrote the book – it is calm and clearly incisive in explaining how making bets against the housing industry seemed insane, and that banks were too big to fail. The movie throws calm out the window and with a wide range of characters played by Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, and Brad Pitt, and more – we see math and economics come to life as certain individual investors calculated the folly of the subprime mortgage industry.
This movie explores the folly of humans and the trust they put into the financial system. The hubris of Wall Street and the billion dollar money flow proved explosive. The movie explains some of the more esoteric terms (collateralized debt obligations or synthetic CDOs) with examples by chef Anthony Bourdain creating a new stew from three day old halibut, or Selena Gomez at a Vegas gaming table. The movie is splashy and scary as we hear Melissa Leo (an official at Standard & Poor’s) explain away ratings because she can’t have the customer go down the street to Moody’s. As the Wall Street Journal movie review says, “high dudgeon gives way to heightening disbelief, followed by horrified belief, about rampant deception, self-deception, and the system’s frailty.”
Great acting all around. Clever film making about a darn tricky subject. The Big Short is smart and sharp, and as a movie will not sell you short. Expect to see a lot of Oscar buzz on this one. And unfortunately do we learn from our mistakes? Alas, money makes the world go round, and up and down, and bubbles burst.