The Big Short
Director and co-screenwriter Adam McKay (Step Brothers) bungles a great opportunity to savage the architects of the 2008 financial crisis in The Big Short, wasting an A-list ensemble cast in the process. Steve Carell, Brad Pitt, Christian Bale and Ryan Gosling play various tenuously related members of the finance industry, men who made made a killing by betting against the housing market, which at that point had superficially swelled to record highs. All of the elements are in place for a lacerating satire, but almost every aesthetic choice in the film is bad, from the U-Turn-era Oliver Stone visuals to Carell’s sketch-comedy performance to the cheeky cutaways where Selena Gomez and Anthony Bourdain explain complex financial concepts. After a brutal opening half, it finally settles into a groove, and there’s a queasy charge in watching a credit-drunk America walking towards that cliff’s edge, but not enough to save the film. D.B.