‘The Big Short’ Review – Mortgage Debates and 4th Wall-Breaks

Adam McKay‘s new directorial feature almost feels like it’s as if they made a feature film documenting the emotions inside the brain of Spike Jonze‘s cameo appearance in THE WOLF OF WALL STREET in the style of 2015’s INSIDE OUT.

From the very beginning of THE BIG SHORT, you can tell director Adam McKay is extremely excited. Whether it be from the documentary-esque zooms onto the faces of our characters in office settings, or the overly confident, hyper-kinetic editing. You see a film like this in a brief time period such as the one between this and the awards season 2 years back and viewers are obviously going to make comparisons between this new offering, and a certain film about three M’s: men, money, and Margot Robbie. Maybe this new film is nowhere near the level of the film I’m referencing, but McKay still decided to include those three M’s simply for good measure.

The dialogue of this film is composed wholly of a few truly fantastic jokes, a couple astoundingly brilliant similes, and the usual completely incomprehensible business chit-chat. Now, that’s all nice and dandy except when it’s the only thing the viewers of the film are listening to, it only keeps them following the narative to a relatively distant extent. It makes the film feel different and stand out in a crowd of quickly-paced, comedic-business-thrillers. The way the film rewards watchers with comedic sequences makes them feel just as intelligent as the characters they’re watching. It’s utterly satisfying and gives the film a whole new layer of substance. This gives the film such a unique tone: one with a sense of comedy, uneasiness or dread, and a level of intrigue. It makes the film more that just a war of comedic retorts mixed with mortgage-mumbo-jumbo; it makes it a special film that can be viewed and a number of different ways. McKay makes his jump from fluffy-Ferrell comedy, to the rough and gruff business comedy with a lighter comedic undercurrent. I was completely transfixed during this film, making the viewers laugh, as well as teaching them a thing-or-two. I’d like to see McKay explore his directing talents even more outside of the straight-comedy genre, as this first step outside of his comfort zone is truly astounding. Maybe not the single best film of the year, but certainly among them. One can definitely become curious about a follow-up film to one as great as this.

Star of 2011’s DRIVE, Ryan Gosling, the previous Batman, Christian Bale, and THE OFFICE star, Steve Carell lead THE BIG SHORT. Gosling is out of his element, that is the one that includes a slow pace down a brightly light hall, to the tune of soft 70’s ambiance, without a single word of dialogue. Here he’s shouting, cussing and absolutely electric. He’s a true marvel to watch as he quips his way out of every scene, literally speaking directly to the audience.

One known for making physical transformations in their roles is Christian Bale. Here he doesn’t necessarily make a substantial physical change, other than sporting a glass-eye and lisp. Bale is great as this character: an oddly tragic one. This aspect of personal tragedy among this character, and one I’ll mention next, helps bring a stronger connection between the character and the audience. The way Carell’s character shares his emotions through subtle mumbling with co-workers is simply, just kind of fascinating.

In 2014’s FOXCATCHER, we saw Steve Carell in a way we’ve never seen him before.His performance was one that scared some and just simply amazed others. Some may even say that the performance was his best performance yet. I might even agree with that, but this, along with a great trailer for this new film, gave me a sense of excitement to see what Carell had in store for the audience this time. Carell essentially leads THE BIG SHORT, and I’d say he does a pretty damn good job at it. He’s brash, bold, hilarious, and even has a deeper level of emotionally relatability. Mr. Carell has now proven, fair & square, that he can be counted upon to bring a great performance to a film, as well as lead it even.

All in all, I came out of THE BIG SHORT feeling that I didn’t waste any time or money. It’s a film that leaves ones who’ve seen it entertained, humored, and in conclusion, satisfied with their choice to check this film out. I mean, Ryan Gossling breaks the forth wall a whole bunch and Christian Bale listens to death metal. Do you at least have Fandango open in the next tab yet?!

THE BIG SHORT is a damn fine film. One I imagine will get a little Oscar attention, as well as one that might even deserve it. It’s well worth checking out this holiday season.

4/5 Stars.

 

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