The Big Short – Review


It’s interesting to see how Adam McKay would go from directing silly Will Ferrell comedies like Anchorman and The Other Guys to what would go to an Oscar contender much like this. It’s a rather impressive transition, because it just surprised me how effectively Adam McKay pulled off telling a story as important as this one. Granted, The Big Short is rather flawed but I found it to be a nonetheless rather enjoyable ride, yet it wasn’t such an easy film to piece together. It’s enjoyable in the sense that when the film is funny, it works quite well, but given the true story that the film is based on, the mannerisms to which it blends comedy and drama within the lead characters does not seem to feel as consistent as it should be.

Christian Bale as hedge fund manager Michael Burry in The Big Short.

Where Adam McKay really does his job rather well is with his own touch of humour within the characters and their obnoxious motifs. It’s always interesting to see where he goes especially with how the story flows from beginning to end, just because McKay’s attention to detail with the specifics of the characters’ actions always remained rather fascinating to watch. It’s not easy to sympathize with them at times, but it’s interesting to see what path their actions continue to drive them to. Their progression is what carries The Big Short as it moves along, but there’s a specific subplot that involves Carell’s character which ends up creating more difficulties along the path.

The performances all across the board are great. Christian Bale impresses once again, Steve Carell probably being my favourite of the leads leaves me pleased once more, Ryan Gosling plays lots of charisma as always, and Brad Pitt just plays it smoothly. Marisa Tomei and Melissa Leo strike again as impressive although the spotlight still belongs to our four male leads, who just steal the show on everywhere they can. What I’ve always enjoyed about the films of Adam McKay arises from what he manages to bring from the cast members whom he works with, whether they play as big a part as any of the four leads or a cameo much like Margot Robbie and Selena Gomez’s brief appearance (this is a specific aspect I felt was troublesome for their parts seemed distracting), for it seems he always finds a way to get them to burst with the energy keeping his films interesting.

Despite being impressive in those areas it seems like there’s also a problem with just the way everything is told. The editing decisions were almost enough to have me thrown off the story despite my interest in the characters and their actions – it only made what possibly could have been rather fantastic a difficult road to follow. It’s a shame because The Big Short has a fascinating story to be told to their viewers, but there’s an unfortunate case with some being thrown off the story because the editing only adds more to making everything extremely convoluted. My guess is that the editing is trying to capture how convoluted the world of the Wall Street market is, but it never mixed so perfectly well with the informative nature that The Big Short aims for as many important details at times may end up feeling left out within the mess created by such editing.

Although Adam McKay is indeed keeping in touch with the humour that characterized what he is well-known for with the comedy genre, I’m not too sure it created a cohesive flow that kept in touch with the progression of his characters. What I will not deny is that it is indeed funny, like McKay’s very funniest films, but given the nature of the characters and what they have done, it does not work as well as it should. I wish I could give it a pass on the count that I laughed here and there, but it seemed like it were only giving off a vibe that Adam McKay were unsure what sort of film he wanted to make. The film, within its most informative aspects, is very heavy with the drama, and the sudden shift from there to the comedy never mixed as well as it should.

I’ve noted inside of an earlier paragraph there’s a subplot that involves Steve Carell’s character and his family but this is where something all the more troublesome is arising from The Big Short because it seems as if it’s unclear what we should feel for him. Like the other characters, he is unlikable (as they should be), but he is also a family man so we must sympathize with him? It never seemed to stitch together properly for this aspect felt a tad underdeveloped and when moments like these came into the film, I could simply care less for them. With all the energy being exerted in The Big Short, moments like these end up dragging the film heavily.

It’s not one to win a fan immediately, but The Big Short proved itself to be a rather fun ride for myself as it went on. With the stellar cast and the charm of Adam McKay’s humour, I can definitely go ahead to recommend what’s to be presented here. I’d also say it may be necessary some more thought to piece everything together can help in enjoying the experience, as I’d only imagine Adam McKay can transition rather well into serious territory with a film like this being proof. The Big Short is a confused, but thoroughly entertaining and informative piece of work, and to some extent it has its importance for the future. Unfortunately, understanding a clear goal is the biggest flaw that drags down The Big Short within all of its potential cleverness. It’s recommendable on a count of importance, but heavily problematic on a count of more fundamental reasons.

Watch the trailer right here.

All images via Paramount.

Directed by Adam McKay
Screenplay by Adam McKay, Charles Randolph, from the book by Michael Lewis
Produced by Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Arnon Milchan, Brad Pitt
Starring Christian Bale, Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling, Steve Carell
Release Year: 2015
Running Time: 130 minutes


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