By Mark Hamilton (May 18, 2016)
While not quite as paint-by-the-numbers as I expected, it's still got some problems. First, the premise is just implausible. I don’t believe there’s any threat or circumstance that could force a TV network to air live footage of a hostage crisis like this. If the movie had something meaningful to say about a culture that broadcasts and consumes actual violent crimes and police chases, then at least it would be making a point. Money Monster just plays it for thrills. So, assuming something as trivial as THIS COULD NEVER HAPPEN doesn't bother you...
The drama between stars Roberts, Clooney, and O'Connell is mostly effective and engaging. The movie seems to have fun with setting up predictable scenarios and then cynically twisting them. Best example I could give is a scene where police crash the studio with a feed of O'Connell's on-screen girlfriend (Emily Meade) in an attempt to resolve the situation. It is delightful.
That being said, my second problem with Money Monster is Clooney. I think he's miscast. I don't think he serves the character or the story here. All the clips of the show within the show (that is, Money Monster with Lee Gates) feel awkward and forced. And, like a lot of elements in this movie, it's hard to tell if that's intentional or not. CNBC’s Mad Money with Jim Cramer clearly served as an inspiration at some point, for whatever it's worth. So there's a real thing like this fake thing. Entertained yet?
Third problem is The Big Conspiracy, which involves a bad guy, and... I guess the Y2K bug? Because we're still afraid of computers in 2016. Money Monster is just devastatingly outclassed by more honest films that depict corruption and greed in the financial industry. The most recent example that comes to mind is The Big Short. You walk away from The Big Short a much more enlightened and hopeless person. The hallmark of great cinema.
The ending of Money Monster is as baffling as its beginning (and by that I mean its existence). No exaggeration, you will be convinced they lifted the final 60 seconds of this movie from YouTube, with no thought or care given to anything preceding it. Money Monster seems to completely miss its own point. Which is either brilliant, or... not brilliant?
RATING: 2 out of 4.
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