Movie Review: Money Monster

Jean-Paul’s Rating: 3/5 stars

Bottom Line: A fluffy and enjoyable movie featuring two of the best actors in the business.  Manages to delightfully surprise the audience a few times.

Jim Cramer = Lee Gates.  Mad Money = Money Monster.  Lee Gates is an asshole and his show “Money Monster” is entertainment at best and a scam at worst.  You do the distributive math.  It’s weird watching a movie whose main character is so obviously drawn from real life.  I guess when you have such an over the top personality to draw from in real life, why try bending that mold at all.  That said, I can’t imagine this movie ever being made if not for the star power behind its making.  It’s obviously not meant to be a blockbuster and it’s really unclear that the movie has much of an audience beyond the star power drawing people to the movie.

Lee Gates (George Clooney) is the host of a TV show that predicts stock market winners in the most outrageously theatrical ways.  Needless to say, this isn’t a very good way for the people watching at home to make money.  When one man, Kyle (Jack O’Connell), invests all he has in one of Gates’ “sure thing” stocks and it bombs, he decides to take Lee hostage to get answers.

It’s a good premise for a movie and the whole hostage situation proceeds in a pleasingly organic way.  There are some funny and some surprising elements to the hostage situation that are also pretty realistic.  Then the movie goes for the easy path and attempts to make Gates the hero.  The denouement is kind of a mess.  It’s predicated on a bunch of happy coincidences and is not very satisfying.  I had the hope that the producer, Patty Finn (Julia Roberts), was actually in on the hostage situation the whole time and was manipulating things to get Gates to admit he was a fraud that hurt people.  But nooooo.  Instead it’s a fake software glitch and hackers and trips to South Africa and an insider who is conveniently able to manipulate the greedy, corrupt CEO into a position where he will have to confess to the world of his crimes.  It was still enjoyable, but I like my version better.

It’s always a pleasure to see Julia Roberts or George Clooney in a film.  This has both and their great chemistry alone makes this worth seeing.  The movie was also directed by Jodie Foster, whom I had no idea even directed movies.  That’s a lot of star power for one film.  I wouldn’t quite say that “Money Monster” is worth seeing, but it is enjoyable enough to watch if you’re looking to watch a movie and nothing much else is showing.

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