Review: Money Monster

Money Monster
5 10
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PLOT: An obnoxious TV financial guru (George Clooney) is taken hostage live on-air, by a young man (Jack O’Connell) financially ruined by one of his stock tips.

REVIEW: When it comes to being a film critic, there’s absolutely nothing worse than giving a bad review to someone you admire. I adore Jodie Foster. I think she’s one of the great role models of her generation, and a talent rarely equaled by her contemporaries. Suffice to say, I was rooting for MONEY MONSTER, but it’s an ill-conceived film that goes wrong early-on and never recovers.

money monster george clooney

Clooney plays a loud-mouthed TV host probably modeled after someone like Jim Cramer. Working as a kind of “infotainer” we’re supposed to believe that people take this ultra-childish guy – who beat-boxes to hip-hop while wearing G-chains in his intro – seriously enough to invest their life-savings into what he says. Fine – stranger things have happened and had MONEY MONSTER come along a year ago, the reception might have been more positive.

Alas, THE BIG SHORT happened. Arguably the best movie about money since WALL STREET, that movie dared to treat its audience as if they were – God forbid – grown-ups. By contrast, everything in MONEY MONSTER is so spoon-fed it becomes ludicrous. Financial jargon is kept at a bare minimum, while they also try to soothe the audience by treating the financial maleficence that bankrupts Jack O’Connell’s character as the shady dealings of one evil genius CEO (Dominic West). Everyone else, right down from his data people to his communications adviser are portrayed as 100% in favor of the little guy – making this far from the condemnation of a broken system the trailer might leave you to believe it is.

All of this leaves us with the human drama as the main reason to see this. Sure enough, Foster’s got three excellent actors in the lead roles. Clooney has the swagger and charm to make the character work somewhat, but his transformation from a total SOB to a selfless champion of the disadvantaged – to the point that he risks his life over-and-over to protect that man who threatened to kill him – is never convincing.

money monster julia roberts

Jack O’Connell, who’s an amazing young actor (he’s terrific in ’71 and STARRED UP) gets a role that feels like old-hat, a working-class hero trying to make a difference. Basically, John Travolta played the exact same part in the now-obscure MAD CITY. The only real original twist is that his pregnant girlfriend (Emily Meade) winds-up being anything but sympathetic. The one who fares best is actually Julia Roberts, who impresses as Clooney’s tough director, who takes control during the hostage situation with compassion and dogged professionalism. She’s the only one who feels authentic.

What’s also quite strange about this is that Foster, perhaps in an attempt to give the film some sense of levity, introduces weird little comic digressions that make the whole movie seem like a kooky caper at times. When they go back into dramatic mode, the audience is so used to laughing that scenes that should be somber become unintentionally hilarious. The background characters also feel like stock-types, from the boorish hostage negotiator to the wise-cracking New York cameraman, to the cool, professional police captain (Giancarlo Esposito).

In the end, what should have been a smart, provocative thriller feels like a corny rehash – THE BIG SHORT or 99 HOMES if their filmmakers didn’t have the faith that the audience would be sophisticated enough to know who’s in the right and who’s in the wrong. This is a major misfire for all involved, but also not quite bad enough to be considered an all-out disaster. It’s just a mediocre waste of talent and time.

Source: JoBlo.com



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