Approach of ‘Money Monster’ is Pure Fraud

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Average: 5 (2 votes) Oscarman rating: 1.0/5.0
Rating: 1.0/5.0

CHICAGO – In our society there is one eternal truth…the rich will ALWAYS win, that’s one of the reasons that they are rich. So when “Money Monster” attempts to take them down a peg with a ridiculous fantasy story, it’s as fraudulent as what they pretend to be fighting. An oligarch watches this, and laughs at us.

What was surprising, and distressing, was that George Clooney was involved in this project. He has made reliably stick-it-to-the-man films for years (“Confessions of a Dangerous Mind,” “Good Night, and Good Luck,” “The American”), but in this one he doesn’t have a character, or at least a character that has a placeholder in reality. Everything else is just window dressing – the direction from Jodie Foster, the horrid screenplay by three writers. and a throwaway role for Julia Roberts that someone like Téa Leoni could have done, and that’s the opposite of a compliment. The premise is false, flabby and trying desperately to make a point, while accomplishing nothing. Besides that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?

Lee Gates (Clooney) is the host of the Financial News Network show “Money Monster,” a loud and brash circus for American investors in the casino…I mean stock market. He’s somewhat of an a-hole (they show him trying to get a dinner companion), and his control room director Patty (Julia Roberts) is quitting after the Friday live show is completed.

George Clooney, Jack O’Connell
Lee Gates (George Clooney) is the Captive of Kyle (Jack O’Connell) in ‘Money Monster’
Photo credit: Sony Pictures Releasing

Naturally, during that show a stranger named Kyle (Jack O’Connell) invades the studio, dressed as a delivery guy. He brandishes a gun, and forces host Lee to wear a bomb jacket, and he’s holding a detonator with an itchy thumb. He wants to see the CEO (Dominic West) of a stock that Lee recommended, because that stock tanked and took his life savings. He doesn’t want his money back, he wants an apology. 

In heroic falsities such as this, it’s never about the money, but in real life it’s always about the money. Twice the nervous gunman – Jack O’Connell is trying so hard his skeleton nearly pops out of his body – is offered compensation for his loss, and in any sensible situation, that would have been the end of the movie. But nobly, like a post modern Jimmy Stewart character, he just wants “an apology” from the CEO. “Hey gun felon, here’s your apology, 10 to 20 years at Attica.” That’s just one of many sickeningly stupid tropes in a long 98 minute film.

In real life, you’d think that the FNN “Money Monster” show would be populated with the lowest end of professional TV people, but in the film they all band together in the name of “truth” to bring down the CEO. Yeah right. 90% of the media is controlled by six corporations in America, and is carefully monitored for the information they feed the drooling public. Those types of stock market shows are on the side of the CEO, and beyond reporting their market numbers and hyperbole, wouldn’t wouldn’t give a damn about a man-with-a-gun on live TV, except to milk it for ratings.

This is a fantasy, as fantastical as the worst parts of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, but it’s based on our familiar world – and familiar society – so shouldn’t it be based in reality? That’s what so frustrating about the movie, it could have been a contender like “The Big Short” or “Margin Call,” but chose to put Georgie Porgie and America’s Sweetheart (Roberts) in a ridiculous “feel good” narrative, that had so many holes in its plot it could have been called “Holes 2: This Time There Were Too Many Holes.”

Julia Roberts
Director Patty (Julia Roberts) Calls the Shots in ‘Money Monster’
Photo credit: Sony Pictures Releasing

There was one joke that worked, and got the film its one star rating. It was about the numbers manipulation of stock prices on the exchange, and how worthless they are. Like the house at a casino, those who manipulate the market always wins, and some doofus with a gun and a bomb is just the price we pay for that manipulation. There is an awkward chastisement scene involving the gunman’s girlfriend, who most likely represents FOX News style media, blaming the victim of the crash instead of the crashers themselves. It stunk, but that was another example of the lost potential.

I really don’t know why this film was made. The entities that financed it are super rich, and expect a profit from their investment. Maybe they thought if you throw the rubes a bone, and fictionally take down a crooked financial guy, then the real crooked financial guys can keep being crooked – possibly by manipulating the profits from this film. The instruments are tuning up, and the band plays on.

“Money Monster” opens everywhere on May 13th.. Featuring George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jack O’Connell, Dominic West, Giancarlo Esposito, Christopher Denham and Caitriona Balfe. Written by Jamie Linden. Alan Difiore and Jim Kouf. Directed by Jodie Foster. Rated “R” senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Writer, Editorial Coordinator

© 2016 Patrick McDonald,

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