The Big Short
2015
**½
Director: Adam McKay
Cast: Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt, Melissa Leo, Hamish Linklater, John Magaro, Rafe Spall, Jeremy Strong, Finn Wittrock, Marisa Tomei, Tracy Letts

Prior to the global financial crisis in 2008, a number of disparate Wall Street traders make a cynical but extremely profitable move and put their money on the collapse of the housing market. In the recent years, Margin Call (fiction) and Inside Job (documentary) have dealt with the topic, and Martin Scorsese’s Wolf of Wall Street turned the world of high finance into an outrageous black comedy. Adam McKay’s uneven concoction, which aims to inform and entertain, lands somewhere between these three. We find ourselves laughing at the complete systemic failure, being disgusted about the moral corruption displayed by the banks, and feeling conflicted about the central characters who play the system. The epilogue reveals that many of them felt bad about their actions, right after pocketing millions of dollars. McKay has made his name with a series of dumb Will Ferrell comedies, so it is no surprise that he bites more than he can chew with this fact-based grown-up film, especially with his distracting stylistic choices. Several characters break the fourth wall and a handful celebrities (for example, Selena Gomez and Anthony Bourdain) appear as themselves to explain difficult financial concepts. McKay and Charles Randolph won an Academy Award for their adaptation of Michael Lewis’s book.