I love comedy. Who doesn’t, right? Funny thing is though, I hate most comedies. They’re just terrible, but luckily for me every once and awhile we get a smart black comedy like The Big Short. This isn’t Woody Allen black comedy (where you’re not always sure if it’s really funny) it’s more like Whiplash, but even more obvious than that. This movie is supposed to be funny, and the film lets you know that. I enjoyed the hell out of it.
So, basically the story revolves around a small group of businessmen (most of whom work for banks or investment companies) who discover that the housing market is going to crash in 2007 (the film starts in the year 2005) because the big banks are giving out bad loans. These men, being businessmen, place bets (which are called “shorts” in financial terms) against the housing market through the big banks and wait for the market to crash so they can cash in. Now, that makes it sound relatively straight forward (which it is, mostly), but there are of course challenges for our characters—such as no one believing them when they say that the market is going to crash. Investors consider pulling their money out of their companies, and many of them are ostracized by their colleagues. But of course as we know, in the end the market does crash, and the shorts do pay out, but the film is smart to not celebrate the downfall of the world economy. Several characters struggle with their dirty wealth and the fact that millions of people are now out of home and job.
It’s a tricky balance, entwining drama with comedy, but The Big Short does it nicely, serving up a fresh take on the financial crisis of 2008. See it if you can.