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The Big Short - Merry Christmas! Let's Talk About Financial Collapse!

Matthew Parkinson | 25 Dec 2015 16:00
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Directed by Adam McKay. Produced by Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Arnon Milchan, and Brad Pitt. Written by Adam McKay and Charles Randolph. Release date: December 23, 2015.

Since there's nothing more fun than watching a movie reflect back on a financial crisis that cost thousands of families their homes, drove the economy so far into the toilet it took years to recover, and nearly doubled America's unemployment rate, here's The Big Short, a perfect film to watch with your family this holiday season! This is a movie about the financial crisis from a few years ago that most of you will remember with very little fondness. The film is equal parts comedy and drama, with just a touch of real-world horror thrown in for good measure.

The Big Short follows a few select individuals who knew that the housing bubble was going to collapse, and used that knowledge for their own personal gains. Michael Burry (Christian Bale) is an investment broker who was the first to discover that subprime mortgages weren't exactly stable. After him, Mark Baum (Steve Carell), Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling), Charlie Geller (John Magaro), and Jamie Shipley (Finn Wittrock) followed. The film jumps around a lot, following all of characters, most of whom are based on real people - except Burry, who actually is a real person.

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You may at this point be wondering exactly how the film is funny, or even particularly entertaining, given that it's about a very unenjoyable time for most people, and that its subject matter, at least on paper, is about as dry as can be. Well, the comedy comes from a variety of places. The first is the dialogue between the characters, which is sharp, buzzing with energy, and often quite clever. The film's narration (provided by Ryan Gosling, in character) is quite enjoyable, too. But the real key is the way that The Big Short describes to us its subject matter.

See, talking about things like subprime mortgages, CDOs, and other various financial terms is possibly worse than watching paint dry, since you're also expected to remember things. The way The Big Short handles this is genius: it features cutaway gags to famous people relating these various financial terms to things you already know, and does so in a humorous, often self-aware way. The first of these sees Margot Robbie - not even a star at the time this crisis was ongoing - in a bubble bath, describing subprime mortgages to the audience.

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