The Hippo


Jul 16, 2019








Money Monster

Money Monster (R)
Film Reviews by Amy Diaz

By Amy Diaz

Money Monster (R)

A TV show host is held hostage by a man who went broke following his investment advice in Money Monster, a slight but fun movie directed by Jodie Foster.
George Clooney Jim Cramers it up as Lee Gates, host of Money Monster, a cable show that is more industry-fawning entertainment than serious financial journalism. Patty Fenn (Julia Roberts) is his long-suffering director who is days away from going to a new network. On this particular day, the show’s guest is scheduled to be Walt Camby (Dominic West), head of a company called IBIS that recently lost $800 million due to what they said was a computer glitch. Camby isn’t available, though, so the company’s PR chief Diane (Caitriona Balfe) is patched in. As the show starts, Lee begins his antics — dancing girls, basketball images when he tells investors to “grow a pair” — but in the background Patty sees a man lurking. Kyle (Jack O’Connell) appears at first to be a lost delivery man or perhaps part of some skit, but quickly he reveals both a gun and a vest filled with explosives that he forces Lee to put on. It turns out he lost $60,000 — all of the money he had — investing with IBIS and blames not just the company but also Lee for so enthusiastically promoting it, calling it safer than a savings account.
Though much of the show’s crew (and everybody else in the building) escapes, Patty and a core group stick around keeping Kyle and Lee on the air and, in part because they think it will help stall Kyle while the police figure out a plan to keep Kyle from detonating the bomb, they begin to investigate IBIS. The company’s claim of a computer glitch doesn’t make sense — not to Patty or Lee or, for that matter, to Diane. All three begin to dig into the high-frequency trading to figure out why the system failed and so much money was lost in such a short time.
There’s a lot in this movie that is sort of ridiculous: the movie’s nuance-free approach to and scoldy tone about Wall Street (movie people tsk-tsking financial people is a bit like the “millionaires fighting billionaires” description of sports business disputes), the way the hostage situation plays out, the accents — particularly of Balfe (who is Irish but probably most familiar in a show where she plays an Englishwoman and is doing I don’t know what here) and O’Connell (who I could immediately tell was some kind of Brit and is doing what I guess is supposed to be a New York accent but one that sounds a bit too audition for amateur theater production of West Side Story to be believed). But I found myself pretty easily forgiving all of that. 
The core of this movie is the relationship between Clooney’s Lee and Roberts’ Patty. It is a relationship that is — delightfully! — not romantic and, equally delightfully, clearly between basically equal peers. Lee may be the famous one, but Patty is highly competent and perhaps has more career mobility than Lee. There is a mix of trust, antagonism and respect between them that feels like a version of the real relationship real adults in this situation might have. 
Clooney’s character is also more fun than I expected going in. Lee Gates is not a one-dimensional blowhard. He seems to be at least somewhat aware of his show’s fluffiness and somewhat aware of his own diminishing clout (his dinner with a financial muckety-muck is canceled, leading him to discover that he’s been canceled on pretty frequently lately). There is a kind of nervous, aging-star sweatiness behind his public bravado, particularly when he discovers even his viewers might feel a bit of schadenfreude at his impending combustion.
And, as someone who works in newspapers, I always enjoy a good dramatization of deadline reporting. Here, even as the story of the unsteady Kyle plays out, there is a speedy investigation into corporate wrongdoing, led in part by Patty. It’s fun to watch and gives the movie a sense of urgency — more so even than the increasingly agitated Kyle and his bomb. 
Money Monster isn’t particularly good but it’s highly watchable and genuinely funny at times. B
Rated R for language throughout, some sexuality and brief violence. Directed by Jodie Foster with a screenplay by Jamie Linden and Alan DiFiore & Jim Kouf, Money Monster is an hour and 38 minutes long and distributed by Tri Star.

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