Last night I caught Craig Gillespie‘s Dumb Money (Sony, 9.15), which had its big premiere in Toronto a few days ago.

It’s based upon Ben Mezrich‘s “The Anti-Social Network“, a 2021 non-fiction account of the GameStop short squeeze, which principally happened between January and March ’21.

The key narrative focus, of course, is class warfare.

Dumb Money is a Frank Capra-esque tale of a battle of influence between financially struggling, hand-to-mouth Average Joe stock investors vs. elite billionaires who tried to reap profits out of shorting GameStop.

The legacy of the 2008-through-2010 recession and movies like Margin Call (’11), The Wolf of Wall Street (’13) and The Big Short (’15) resulted in considerable hostility towards Wall Street hedge fund hotshots.

The venting of this anger was enabled by the ability of hand-to-mouth, small-time traders keeping up with fast market changes through social media investment sites like R/wallstreetbets.

I’m too dumb to fully understand the intricacies of the term “short squeeze**,” but I understand the broad strokes.

I didn’t love Dumb Money, but I paid attention to it. It didn’t exactly turn me on but it didn’t bore me either. I didn’t once turn on my phone. I was semi-engaged.

Paul Dano‘s performance as Keith Gill, the main stock speculator and plot-driver, is fairly compelling. The costars — Pete Davidson, American Ferrara, Seth Rogen, Vincent D’Onofrio, Nick Offerman, Anthony Ramos, Sebastian Stan and Shailene Woodley — deliver like pros.

I spent a fair amount of time wondering why the 39 year-old Dano is heavier now than he was as Brian Wilson in Bill Pohlad‘s Love and Mercy, for which he intentionally gained weight. The real Gill is semi-slender or certainly not chubby.

Clearly Margin Call, The Big Short and The Social Network have far more pizazz and personality.

** “A short squeeze is a rapid increase in the price of a stock owing primarily to an excess of short selling of a stock rather than underlying fundamentals. A short squeeze occurs when there is a lack of supply and an excess of demand for the stock due to short sellers having to buy stocks to cover their short positions”…huh?