CLARIFICATION: This story has been updated to better reflect that GameStop’s all-time high closing stock price reached near-triple-digits.
Dumb Money is not your average dramedy. Boasting a Megan Thee Stallion tune, a giant pet pig and Seth Rogan in an oddly serious role, it’s the real story of how a group of determined, ordinary people caused a short squeeze of GameStop stock and made prominent hedge funds lose billions of dollars in 2021.
That was indeed the most enthralling aspect of the film, which began a limited release on Sept. 15: the story was true and featured relatable characters, including several college students.
As we meet each character at the beginning of the film, the audience learns many of them are poor or in hefty debt, and those operating the related hedge funds are monstrously wealthy.
Then “Roaring Kitty” comes into play. Keith Gill, played by Paul Dano and known for his YouTube channel under the Roaring Kitty alias, is shown posting videos educating viewers on promising public stock trading opportunities. He shares he has a good feeling about GameStop, and more and more followers — as well as members of the WallStreetBets Reddit forum — pour tons of money into the stock.
Having watched Roaring Kitty videos myself in the past, Dano’s portrayal of Gill is near spot on. He captures his awkward, quirky internet personality perfectly. Not only that, but the film’s recreations of his YouTube videos are extremely accurate.
The film also had a good grasp of how people communicated on various social forums in 2021. While it did include an extremely cringeworthy clip of a character doing the TikTok dance to Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage,” I applaud the Dumb Money crew on their general understanding of what it was like to be a young person in 2021.
Hedge funds make money through risky, high-reward strategies like borrowing stock from brokers, selling it off to lower the traded company’s value and buying it back to keep the difference.
As the movie progresses, the billionaires managing these hedge funds grow increasingly nervous about the GameStop stock trend. The numbers eventually spike when Roaring Kitty followers invest massive amounts of money into the stock. GameStop stock’s closing price soars to near-triple-digits. The hedge funds are then unable to buy back the stock.
In other words, the shady businessmen get totally screwed.
The scene where they find out what has happened literally gave me chills. Watching a group of aspiring citizens and students bite back at the system was exhilarating.
The film also makes use of a variety of real news clips, TikTok videos, social media posts and clips from the congressional hearings that occurred as a result of the chaos. I laughed out loud as a fictional Vlad Tenev — the CEO of online investment platform Robinhood — argued with clips of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez taken from her real-life dispute with Tenev.
The end of the film depicts the characters’ now drastically-changed net worths. It was satisfying to see the hedge fund managers’ losses and the “dumb money’s” gains. Viewers learn the citizens whose net worths didn’t increase did not sell their stock, adding a hopeful note that the investors are still going strong.
The last part of the film that really stood out to me was the soundtrack. I was able to jam out in my seat to “Savage” as well as Cardi B’s “WAP” and Kendrick Lamar’s “HUMBLE.” And scenes as regular as a man riding the subway became turned beautiful with the film’s touching score.