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Movie Review: The Big Short

Abigail Benjamin

I'm calling for a boycott of The Big Short. On the surface, this smart and funny movie about four quirky bankers who figured out the unavoidable fall of the US Housing Market 2 years before Allan Greenspan, has all the fun of Oceans 11 meeting Princeton's Econ 101. 

The actors are established favorites, Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling, Steve Carell, and Christian Bale. Brad Pitt disappears into his role of a burned out Wall Street Trader who moves to Colorado and starts his own Farm to Table movement. "Seeds are going to be the new currency!" he tells two investors before helping them make a billion dollar bet against the thriving US Economy. 

Steve Carell resurrects his comic genius from The Office to play a grouchy banker who is fed up with the choas of lies surrounding the mortgage bond market. The scene where he pieces together the amount of illogical thinking behind American bond trading during a 2005 dinner with an industry insider, is worthy comparison to Joseph Heller's, Catch 22. Marisa Tomei makes a brief cameo as Steve Carell's long-suffering wife. I'm reminded instantly why this incredible actress won an Oscar. 

There is a lot to like in The Big Short. The photography is fast paced and edgy. The plot is quick. The acting is great. The theme is interesting. However, there is a line of sexism that runs throughout the entire movie. In the end, this is not a movie that I'd recommend to my husband or my friends.

The director seemed insecure about how to maintain audience interest while his narrator describes important Economic terms. As a result, the movie relies on the advertising equivalent of a barely dressed woman posed on the hood of a Grand Am in order to sell more cars.

In The Big Short, a naked woman defines the term "Subprime Mortgage" while she sips champagne in a bubble bath. Actress Selena Gomez  lounges suggestively on a black jack table while an Economist defines "Synthetic Collatoral Debt Obligations." The female character who represents the Security Exchange Comission, (SEC), literally kisses a Goldman Sachs banker while wearing an extremely short miniskirt. I felt willing to shut my eyes when the male bankers conducted business at strip clubs. However, these additional insults made me feel I alienated from a movie script written primarily to appeal to sophmoric guys. 

I wish I could tell director Adam McKay in a pre-production note that he doesn't need to resort to cheap tricks because he's already co-written a great script, assembled a great cast, and almost everyone wants to understand by the US Housing Bubble burst in 2007 and set off a world-wide recession. Yet I can't. So I'm asking my friends to boycott this film instead. 

Votes for Women! (Oh wait, that was the slogan from 100 years ago.) Films for Women!