‘The Big Short’ is ‘terrifyingly charming’

By: Grant Vance ~Managing Editor~

Photo courtesy of rollingstone.com |When four outsiders saw what the big banks, media and government refused to see, the global collapse of the economy, they come up with an idea that leads them into the dark underbelly of modern banking.

Comedies in the vein of “Anchorman” and “Step Brothers” are lovable, but often written off as nothing more than goofy Will Ferrell vehicles. As goofy as they are, director Adam McKay is sharper and more socially inclined than a casual audience would assume, finally proving his true merit with the Oscar- leading “The Big Short.”

Taking a more subtle, satirical approach this time around, McKay’s comedic timing and skills as a proficient director have shined in “The Big Short” — a terrifyingly charming look into the economic collapse of 2008. Jumping around from various characters’ perspectives, “The Big Short” chronicles the years leading to the recession through the lens of the bankers who caught on to the housing bubble early, each approaching the ethical and financial mess with his own spin.

Adapted from Michael Lewis’s novel “The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine,” “The Big Short” is loaded with financial jargon and drastic time lapses in order to fully encapsulate what was happening at the time. McKay’s choices in handling what could have been awkward story-telling guffaws — such as Margot Robbie explaining economics in a bubble bath and stylistic cultural montages — really shine and distinguish the film.

Some other filmmaking choices escalating McKay’s more subtle approach to satire lie in skillful sound editing and fluid camera movement and focus adjustments. Having an almost documentary feel at times, McKay uses cinematography to ground the film in realism. He is also not afraid to break the fourth wall from time to time in order to set the facts straight for the non-fiction aspects of the story. Clever sound editing techniques include a soft laugh track over a pompous CDO manager’s explanation of his “job,” as well as a carefully chosen, layered soundtrack throughout.

McKay really shines in “The Big Short,” considering it is a genuinely well put together film, escalated even further by its talented ensemble cast. The narcissistic narrator, Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling), guides the plot along, from socially inept Dr. Michael Burry (Christian Bale) predicting the collapse, to Steve Carrell’s morally-torn loud-mouth Mark Baum accepting the consequences of buying into such a crisis.

With the addition of Brad Pitt as a hyper-skeptical Ben Rickert and a well-rounded supporting cast, “The Big Short” has a lot to offer in terms of dynamic, entertaining performances. “The Big Short” has already won The Producers Guild Award and is nominated for five academy awards, including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor for Christian Bale, Best Director, Best Film Editing and Best Writing Adapted Screenplay.