Review: ‘Money Monster’ Is Insincere And Heavy Handed

Title: Money Monster
Director: Jodie Foster
Summary: Financial TV host Lee Gates and his producer Patty are put in an extreme situation when an irate investor takes over their studio. – via imdb

George Clooney is one of the last actors that is truly a movie star and he knows it. That’s why he seems to be doing movies now that only have messages. I understand that Clooney has ideas and wants to be the one to pass them along but the movies themselves are suffering for them. Tomorrowland was about as subtle as a two by four, and now he has decided to lecture us about the horrors of Wall Street as funded by the Sony Corporation. However, Clooney and the rest of the cast are extremely talented so perhaps that dissonance could work itself out.

Money Monster tried to be a thriller with a message but is, instead, rather dull and insincere.

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Money Monster

There is a great moment in Money Monster where it almost makes fun of its own existence. The movie is trying to be a film railing against corporate America as funded by the Sony Corporation and is directed and starring veterans of the industry who probably have more money than I will ever see in my lifetime. Kyle Budwell (Jack O’Connell) has taken Lee Gates (George Clooney) hostage with a bomb vest and a gun on national TV. At one point Lee tries to talk Kyle down by asking how he thinks he has the right to say that he has the worst life in the room and that allows him to kill not only himself but everyone else in the room. Kyle replies along the lines of “you’re going to stand there in your $1000 suit and ask me who has the worse life?” This moment represents the entire movie. It is trying so hard to have a message and to be about something important that it completely misses the irony of its own existence versus its message.

Perhaps if this was an indie starring a bunch of unknown actors by an unknown director this message would have felt more sincere, but as it is it comes across as incredibly phony. You cannot rail against the machine and then litter the movie in Sony product placement. It wants to make you think but by the end but all I could think was that this was the wrong group to try and make this message. This is a movie that thinks it’s the smartest person in the room when in reality it’s like a trust fund kid who has never worked a day in his life ranting about being stuck in a dead end job. Not only do you have no idea what you’re talking about, you also are the wrong person to try and lecture everyone else about this subject.

Perhaps this could all be excused if the “thrills” in this “thriller” existed but Money Monster takes what could at least been an interesting concept and drags it down with cliches. A mad man coming in and taking someone hostage on live TV while demanding answers to something no one understands is not a bad idea for a movie. If Money Monster wasn’t so pretentious this could have made a fun B movie if it embraced what it was. However, this movie is under the impression that it is the lone voice to speak up against Wall Street and thus can’t be bother to make tension. There isn’t a single likable character in the entire cast, and despite having such a strong cast of Clooney, Julia Roberts, and O’Connell, director Jodie Foster and writers Jamie Linden, Alan DiFiore, and Jim Kouf don’t do anything with them. You don’t care if Lee gets blown up or if Kyle gets his answers because you don’t want to root for them.

Money Monster is that person at a party lecturing everyone else about a topic that they don’t really understand. The movie feels incredibly insincere and doesn’t take the time to learn how an actual television studio works, when the location is incredibly important to the plot of the movie. Perhaps a different creative team could have taken this idea in a better direction, or if it embraced the silly thriller aesthetic it could have been good. It doesn’t, though, and instead comes across as heavy handed, pretentious and boring.

Kaitlyn Booth
Kaitlyn Booth
Kaitlyn Booth is a writer, film critic, comic lover, and soccer fan based in Salt Lake City. She has covered such events as the Sundance Film Festival, San Diego Comic Con, and New York Comic Con and been a special guest and panelist at Salt Lake Comic Con and FanX. She has a deep fondness for female superheroes and independent film.