The Big Short
Directed by Adam McKay
Written by Adam McKay and Charles Randolph
Starring: Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, and Brad Pitt
I have heard the phrase dark comedy applied to films from “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” to “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance).” Never has there been a film more deserving of the term dark comedy than “The Big Short.” Usually dark comedies, such as the aforementioned “Dr. Strangelove” and “Birdman,” deliver the comedy through the use of satire, unlike other dark comedies “The Big Short” contains no satire. The lack of satire in the film was a deliberate choice by the director Adam McKay because “The Big Short” is, as surprising as it may be, a real story. The movie adapted from Michael Lewis’ 2010 non-fiction bestseller “The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine,” which chronicled the housing and credit bubble that lead to the financial crisis of 2007-08 and ultimately the Great Recession.
McKay’s direction of the movie was remarkable. McKay delivers a story filled with complicated finance and economics in a way that does not require a degree in either subject to understand. He defines the all the terms and has the complex ideas told in layman’s terms, for example, he has Margot Robbie explaining sub-prime mortgages in a bubble bath.
I suppose you could say the complicated information in the movie dumbed down (for lack of a better term) too much, perhaps. Trust me when I say you do not want the version of this film where the information given requires a degree in finance or economics to understand the movie. That movie would not be as entertaining to watch.
For a third time this year, a film comes along with an outstanding ensemble cast. Like “Spotlight” and “The Hateful Eight” before it “The Big Short” thrives on the strength of its ensemble and contains no “star.” “The Big Short” is no one’s movie, this is a film about the story, and like “Spotlight” the cast lets the story be the star of the film. However, unlike “Spotlight,” this film is pretty quick to place the blame on Wall Street and the banks. Then again, how could they not?
“The Big Short” is the best dark comedy since “Dr. Strangelove.” “The Big Short” simply states the complicated information involved in a complex situation, and it is the only movie this year that features Margot Robbie in a bubble bath. Hopefully, Adam McKay gets, at least, the Oscar nomination he deserves for this film, and if he is nominated, I believe he will likely win.