Money Monster is Jodie Foster’s first feature film directorial effort since The Beaver in 2011 and I guess Foster’s credit as director was one of the reasons why I expected more from this one. Of the handful of movies that Foster has directed, Money Monster is probably the least satisfying of them all, even though I’m not entirely sure it’s all her fault. It’s obviously a film filled with good intentions but the script, credited to Alan DiFore, Jamie Linden and Jim Kouf is brimming with so many half-baked concepts that never really catch fire that I’m not sure any director could have saved the picture. They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions and that adage can be applied to bad films as well. This is a movie that clearly wants to be an indictment of the financial misdeeds of the members of upper crust society, which led to the 2008 financial meltdown and its ongoing aftermath. Unfortunately, it plays out like a surface level examination of this problem and not much else.
Lee Gates, played by George Clooney, is a talk show host giving financial advice on a nightly basis on a cable channel called The Financial News Network. The parallels to similar cable networks are obvious. Gates and his director (Julia Roberts) have had a good working relationship for an indeterminate number of years that, unbeknownst to Lee, may be threatened by her decision to take a new job at a competitor. This is the drama unfolding in Gates’ personal world when an even bigger problem rears its head in the form of a disgruntled twentysomething (up and coming British actor, Jack O’Connell) who decides to hold Michaels hostage live on national TV in an effort to prove a point.
The kid doesn’t really want to hurt anyone. He’s just tired of getting the short end of the stick. He took advice from Gates on his show, buying a stock whose value went south fairly quickly. Now, with a wife and offspring to support, he doesn’t know where to turn. His stunt is more of an act of desperation than anything else. Gates senses this and feels partially responsible. He wants to undo his misdeeds but this, unfortunately, leads to a final act that feels out of step with the rest of the film.
The best thing about the film is the chemistry that Clooney and Roberts share in their respective roles. It carries the film a long way over the rough spots but it isn’t enough to get the film over its glaring inconsistencies in character, particularly Clooney’s. Perhaps it’s that The Big Short and Inside Job, films that also tackled this same subject, have set the bar so high that a film like Money Monster was bound to come up unfulfilling.
All these movies are playing at the Carmike in Hickory and other area theaters.
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