In true life on a slow day, one might hover over a cable network show such as Money Monster for a couple of minutes for sheer shock value. In the movie by that name, producer Patty Fenn seems fully aware of this notion. So the veteran show-maker allows host Lee Gates to ham it up non-stop. He dances. He preens. He employs over-the-top sound effects for his bold stock market predictions. He’s got the confidence of … say, Jim Cramer of CNBC show Mad Money.
She watches all of this from her control booth with the combination of a resigned grin and the loyal friend’s guilty secret that she’s soon leaving for a better job across the street.
Then a man disguised as a delivery guy sneaks his way onto the set during a live broadcast, and all hell really breaks loose. The weasel-like dude connects to a story of the day, a stock that fell drastically because of a “computer glitch,” losing $800 million for investors like-that. On live TV, he forces Gates to put on a bomb-vest, shoots his pistol into the air, and turns the show into a version of the O.J. car chase, viewers looking on in fascination and horror.
Jodie Foster directs the screenplay from Jamie Linden, Alan DiFiore and Jim Kouf (from the story by DiFiore and Kouf), and she’s got major star power in the leads to follow her every wish.
Foster gets the big and small things right, including breaking the tension with well-placed and perfectly timed humor.
George Clooney and Julia Roberts play it for all its worth as the on- and off-camera stars. Clooney takes Gates from a superficial buffoon to a host with a clue to a sensitive man relating to life’s horrors in a believable arc. Roberts plays Fenn as the journalistic brains, pushing the story as it emerges and piecing together the puzzle from various sources.
Jack O’Connell, a guy I happily discovered overcoming so much as Louie Zampino in Unbroken on pay cable, shines as Everyman show-crasher Kyle Budwell, first sinister and then sympathetic as his life story unwinds in front of the world’s eyes.
The near-capacity late matinée Saturday afternoon crowd at the big Regal Cinemas theater in Syracuse mall Shoppingtown ate it all up. And why not? Though fiction, this story is as believable and nearly as fetching as the award-winning true tale The Big Short that came down the Wall Street pike just before it.
Which is your favorite George Clooney movie, and why? Which is your favorite Julia Roberts movie, and why? Would you watch a TV show hostage situation, or turn the channel, and why?