I was in junior year of high school when the GameStop short squeeze happened. I had a vague understanding of how it occurred, but not the consequences. My brother on the other hand was urging my mom frantically to buy stock.
When I saw the trailer for “Dumb Money,” I was intrigued. For one, we are only two years removed from the ordeal. And two, the cast absolutely stacked. Paul Dano plays the main character Keith Gill, aka Roaring Kitty. Shailene Woodley plays his wife Caroline Gill, Seth Rogen is Gabe Plotkin and Pete Davidson practically plays himself.
Turns out January 2021 was chock full of events that permanently changed America. Gill bought $53,000 worth of GameStop stock and shared his thoughts on YouTube and the Reddit forum r/wallstreetbets. People bought in, causing a short squeeze and extensive damage for hedge funds that didn’t account for the uptake.
The movie closely follows the actual story with a few addendums. For one, we see the impact of Gill on his followers. They consist of a single mother who has two kids, two college students in hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt from student loans and a GameStop worker with a hundred dollars to his name. All avid followers of Roaring Kitty and frequenters of the reddit r/wallstreetbets, they take a gamble and invest in GameStop.
If you have a rudimentary understanding of the stock market, do not let that stop you from watching the movie. It definitely helps, but you can still understand what’s happening and why.
The movie takes place during 2020 and 2021 which of course means rewatching the pandemic. Usually, I do not like seeing movies or TV that incorporated the pandemic into their storylines, but in this case it was unavoidable. However, I think they pulled it off without making it too jarring. It almost made me nostalgic seeing people wearing masks below their nose and dividers at restaurants.
This movie pulled off the mundane and captured Gill as an everyman so effectively. The whole time, you can’t help but feel compelled to root for Gill and everyone who invested in the stock. I was also pleasantly surprised by how accurately they captured the Reddit energy, for lack of better words.
My biggest qualm with the movie is that I think it came out too soon. Granted, the initial release was limited and will have a wide release on Sept. 29, but the movie has only grossed around $300,000. But I think if they waited until the GameStop incident wasn’t fresh in our minds, it could’ve been more successful.
Post “Dumb Money,” I might hedge some bets. After all, I like the stock.