Dumb Money

Everyone loves an underdog story, especially when it involves poor schmucks who can thumb their nose while also making money off of Wall Street bigwigs. That is exactly the storyline with “Dumb Money,” and its plot is essentially pulled from the headlines. The story revolves around buying stock in the supposedly undervalued GameStop, and riding it out no matter the consequences.

As the lead character Keith Gill (with the appealing online handle of Roaring Kitty), Paul Dano has the conviction necessary to remain firm in his strategy regardless of all the evidence and scorn piled against him. Dano has delivered fine performances in films as varied as “Little Miss Sunshine,” “Love and Mercy” and “The Fablemans.” His round open and guileless face was perfect for portraying Brian Wilson, in “Love and Mercy.” Here he is the YouTube star who gains traction with his improbable financial theory as a ragtag group of misfits essentially becomes a legion of followers. The most poignant is a clerk at the GameStop shop, played by Anthony Ramos. He finally has his “take this job and shove it” moment. But there are several others who have their own challenges in maintaining the financial discipline for the expected big payday.

On the other side of the bet are the Wall Street bigwigs, the most notable of whom is Gabe Plotkin played by Seth Rogen.

Screenwriters Lauren Schuker Blum, Rebecca Angelo and Ben Mezrich work from the latter’s book “The Antisocial Network.”

Director Craig (“I, Tonya”) Gillespie does a good job of explaining to viewers the financial dynamics at play. This was a similar challenge in “The Big Short.” In both instances, most viewers probably had some passing awareness because of the recurring headlines, but probably did not have their arms fully around all the issues at play.

“Dumb Money” actually has many plot threads; weaving together simultaneously is the deft editing by Kirk Baxter, who keeps the action coherent. In that various social platforms such as Twitter, Reddit and TikTok were also involved in the proceedings, actual online posts are delivered through montages to bring greater familiarity to the proceedings.

Coupled with the fact that escalating sums of money, moving from the millions to the billions of dollars, the stakes become even more dramatic. Whereas this amount of money is usually the exclusive purview of the masters of Wall Street, here we have everyday debt-ridden civilians dabbling in that rarefied atmosphere. Because it all actually happened, and because the elements of the film work so well together, “Dumb Money” is a sure bet.

Brad Auerbach has been a journalist and editor covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, SPIN, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.