TORONTO, Canada—Be it his reputation-restoration projects I, Tonya and Pam & Tommy or his live-action Disney origin story Cruella, Craig Gillespie has a thing for making shallow, strident, in-your-face comedic dramas about brash outsiders. He’s at it again with Dumb Money, the true tale of the Redditors—led by investor Keith Gill—who briefly upended Wall Street and made themselves industry stars (and, in a few cases, wealthy) by short-squeezing GameStop’s stock.
Ripped from yesterday’s headlines, it’s as fast, flashy, and superficial as the director’s prior efforts, and also as exaggerated—a state of affairs due not only to its style but to its celebration of its characters as working-class revolutionaries rather than just temporarily clever merry pranksters.
“Power to the Players,” was GameStop’s slogan, a proletariat rallying cry taken very seriously by Dumb Money (in theaters September 15, following its premiere Friday at the Toronto International Film Festival). Written by Lauren Schuker Blum and Rebecca Angelo with sub-The Big Short cheekiness, Gillespie’s film is a call to arms for the “little man” against the rich and powerful, as it incessantly announces out loud, most frequently via Shailene Woodley’s Caroline, the wife of its protagonist Keith (Paul Dano).