Directed by Jodie Foster
Starring George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jack O'Connell
We've made it to the point in Hollywood where the recent financial crisis has become popular fodder for thrillers, comedies, and everything in between. Acting as a commentary on big business and today's media, Money Monster sores in theory, but falters in its approach.
Lee Gates (George Clooney) is a popular television host known for flashy antics and a loud personality. The host of his own money show, where he gives financial advice, Gates is preparing to say farewell to his longtime producer Patty Fenn (Julia Roberts) during their last broadcast together when a disgruntled viewer crashes the set and takes Gates and the production team hostage. Demanding the show stay on the air, the plight of Gates becomes a worldwide phenomenon.
Playing out in real time, Money Maker sold itself on a strong trailer, offering the kind of edge-of-your-seat premise perfect for our current attention spans. In actuality, director Jodie Foster works the timeframe to mostly solid use, but there are moments that drag, becoming just as preachy as a real money show without any real heart. It's very clear that, beyond just being a summer blockbuster, Foster was hoping to mold an intelligent proverb on the risks involved in being a normal person in a world controlled by millionaires.
There are moments of true excitement, especially thanks to Jack O'Connell's clever turn as distraught Kyle Budwell. While he's technically the bad guy, the plot lends itself to some sympathetic notions in regards to his struggles. We've all been in that place where making a quick buck seems like the ticket to financial peace. Unfortunately, some risks do not end happily. Mixed with furor and innocence, Budwell becomes a representative of a vast majority.
This connection to Budwell offers the most compelling piece of the Money Monster puzzle. Living in the era of current and relevant media available at any time of the day, especially in regards to social media and breaking news, a similar event taking place would not only be harrowing, but completely captivating. Budwell becomes a sort-of blue collar hero to the masses, especially when leading Gates through Manhattan, with cameras still fixated on the turmoil at hand.
Far from perfect, Money Monster ultimately accomplishes what it sets out to do. It is more intelligent than many other summer offerings, saying more than it intends to, but still feels stilted in its overall drama. Clooney and Roberts do what they do best, but don't expect Money Monster to be part of the award season conversation.
Runtime: 1h 38min