Friday, March 11, 2016

The Big Short

DVD Review by Kam Williams

Dramatization of 2008 Financial Collapse Arrives on DVD

Michael Lewis' The Big Short was an eye-opening best seller chronicling the machinations on the part of a quartet of Wall Street contrarians (played by Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Steve Carell and Brad Pitt) who accurately forecast the global financial crisis of 2008. The four made a mint by investing in Credit Default Swaps (CDS) in anticipation of the collapse of the market in Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDO). 
In layman's terms, these proverbial smartest guys in the room basically bet that the real estate bubble would burst, because of the easy money being lent unqualified borrowers via subprime mortgages. The banks didn't mind making so-called NINJA loans (No Income/No Job) since they would quickly sell the worthless instrument to unsuspecting investors just about as soon as the deals were completed. 
Despite a plethora of decent performances, the screen version of The Big Short fails to do justice to the source material. The movie marks Adam McKay's first foray into dramatic fare. The veteran writer/director has enjoyed quite a career in comedy, which is reflected in a resume that includes Anchorman (2004), Talladega Nights (2006), Step Brothers (2008) and The Other Guys (2010), The Campaign (2012), Anchorman 2 (2013) and Get Hard (2015). 
Despite winning this year's Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, the film suffers from a few glaring flaws in this critic's humble opinion. The first is the fact that the names of all the key players have been changed. Since this is based on a true story, resorting to fictional characters serves to lessen the intensity of a tale that could've been quite compelling. 
The movie is further trivialized by a failure to commit fully to drama, a no-no, given the serious subject matter. After all, no one has been held responsible for the crash, leaving much of the country still miffed about the billion dollar bailout of Wall Street at the expense of Main Street.

Equally annoying are several celebrity cameos by the likes of chef Anthony Bourdain, Aussie actress Margot Robbie and pop diva Selena Gomez. During distracting, fourth-wall breaking appearances, they face the camera to explain the meaning of derivatives and other arcane financial instruments. McKay ostensibly included these interludes to make his jargon-laden script more accessible. 
A disappointingly dry lecture in finance strictly with egghead appeal.

Fair (1.5 stars)
Rated R for nudity, sexuality and pervasive profanity
Running time: 130 minutes
Distributor: Paramount Home Entertainment
Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Extras: Deleted scenes; In the Tranches: Casting; The Big Leap: Adam McKay; Unlikely Heroes: The Characters of The Big Short; The House of Cards: The Rise of the Fall; and Getting Real: Recreating an Era.

To see a trailer for The Big Short, visit:

To order a copy of The Big Short Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack, visit:

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