MOVIE REVIEWThree out of five
There would be a few risks if “Money Monster” was a stock option, but overall it would be a solid investment.
Lee Gates (George Clooney) is the hold-nothing-back host of “Money Monster,” a TV money show with tips on trading and stocks. One of his tips turns out to be a complete bust, and the stock he tells everyone to buy goes belly up.
One of the viewers hit by the financial gaffe is Kyle Budwell (Jack O’Connell), who subsequently decides to take the host, the crew and the entire studio hostage to determine what went wrong.
Behind the cameras is Patty Fenn (Julia Roberts), who uses her TV know-how to keep everyone alive as the crazy guy with the gun runs around. However, the more they start digging into what happened with the stocks, the less crazy it begins to look.
There is no doubt that “Money Monster” will keep you on your toes. You never know what Budwell will do next or when he’s going to go off. Every move the hostages make must be planned perfectly so they don’t set him off.
The story really starts going strong when they stop treating it like a hostage situation and start viewing it as a show they would actually produce. Fenn works her magic, moving in cameras, getting graphics and numbers for Gates to feed to Budwell.
Clooney and Roberts make an excellent team on screen. Their chemistry as coworkers is genuine. You know they have each other’s back, and Fenn is going to do everything she can to save Gates.
So you have the calm, cool and collected combination of Clooney and Roberts, and then you have off-the-wall anger and insanity of Budwell. It creates a tug of war between “everything’s going to be OK” and “we’re all going to die” that changes moment by moment.
It succeeds because Clooney, Roberts and O’Connell make you believe them. First you have Clooney’s fear, which then kicks into pure survival mode. Then there is Roberts’ determination to keep everyone alive and safe. She doesn’t have time to be told no, and she makes others want to get it done now. O’Connell’s character is complete chaos, and it’s wonderful to watch him nervously pace around as he soon realizes the mess he’s gotten himself into.
It’s a gripping tale — but it’s also too far-fetched. While the acting, characters and main premise of the plot draw viewers in, it’s not quite enough to make up for a story that tests credulity and lacks subtilely as it unfolds. The “bread crumbs” dropped along the trail for our investigators to follow are more like obvious, giant pieces of bread.
Another disappointing aspect of the film is an over-reliance on angry fist-shaking at “them” and the unfair “system” of money-making that goes on. While the film does make viewers want answers on how money is handled, it also seems to condone violent behavior if it doesn’t work out.
“Money Monster” has its problems, so it’s risky call. But it will generate some interest.