Surprise! Serious economics turn into serious entertaintment

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A scene with Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling from “The Big Short,” a film about the subprime-mortgage market’s 2008 collapse. Photo courtesy of The Paramount.

I can barely wrap my mind around filling out a check, so when my Mom suggested that we go see new movie, “The Big Short,” she might as well have been talking about a 10 hour documentary on the space time continuum. “The Big Short” isn’t about quantum physics, but as a film about the causes of the 2008 economic crash, it might as well be.
“The Big Short” is based on famous Wall Street writer Michael Lewis’s book, “The Big Short.” The film follows four separate groups of people who saw the housing bubble that led to the 2008 economic crash (already sounds confusing, right!?) before anyone else. These four smart cookies are then able to bet against the American housing system and ultimately, profit off of the economic disaster.

After reading a similar synopsis, I quickly told my Mom that I would not accompany her to a seemingly boring, depressing, and preachy movie– but clearly, I’m not a hard egg to crack. At the mention of a chocolate reward, I was on my way to the movie, no matter how much younger I was going to be than everyone else in the theater.
Just 10 minutes into “The Big Short” though, I discovered that, as usual, my assumptions had been all wrong. “The Big Short” did not make me cry tears of boredom, but instead, tears of laughter. The film managed to shove years of serious, gritty economics into two hours of serious entertainment.

“The Big Short” manages to tackle complicated concepts, but it does so with the sly hand of a skilled entertainer. The movie capitalizes on cheeky charm and blatantly cuts to famous stars to explain complicated economic concepts. Stars include Australian bombshell Margot Robbie, American singer Selena Gomez, and world famous chef, Anthony Bourdain.

On top of that, Ryan Gosling, the narrator of the film, often breaks the fourth wall to come clean with the audience. Clearly Adam McKay, the film’s director, has purposefully smothered a technical, serious movie in unabashed attractiveness.

Beyond “The Big Short’s” charming self awareness and perfectly placed pop culture montages, it is a movie that sneakily brings up important topics.

“The Big Short” may be serious entertainment, but it also makes for serious thought. It isn’t a boring movie just for old people who read the Wall Street Journal (although your 10-year-old little sibling probably won’t be a fan), but a movie for everyone interested in how macroeconomics and our awareness of them ultimately affect us. The film shows us serious selfishness, stupidity, and corruption within big banks and government– the kind of things that are important to be aware of, and you might as well be entertained while learning!

Georgia Oldham is a senior at ARS, a third year Polaris Press veteran, and a pretty cool cat all around. Born to an aristocratic family in Saint Petersburg; Georgia was quickly smuggled out of Russia and brought to Austin, Texas to avoid numerous political schemes. Since then, she’s been wandering through museums, watching way too much PBS, doodling on just about everything, gobbling up all the chocolate in sight, and honing in on her storytelling skills. She hopes to one day return to Russia to claim her generous inheritance, where of course she will continue to work as a foreign correspondent for the Polaris Press.

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