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'Big Short' Is A Funny Movie About 2008's Housing Market Collapse


The author Michael Lewis is known for books about men who buck conventional wisdom. He's also known for books that attract Hollywood's attention - "Moneyball" came out in 2011, and now we have "The Big Short." MORNING EDITION and Los Angeles Times film critic Kenneth Turan has this review.

KENNETH TURAN, BYLINE: "The Big Short" is a very funny movie about a very serious situation. It's a comedy of the absurd that takes us back to the heady days just before 2008's housing market collapse.


MARISA TOMEI: (As Cynthia Baum) You hate Wall Street. Maybe it's time to quit.

STEVE CARELL: (As Mark Baum) I love my job.

TOMEI: (As Cynthia Baum) You hate your job.

CARELL: (As Mark Baum) I love my job.

TOMEI: (As Cynthia Baum) You're miserable.

CARELL: (As Mark Baum) I love my job. I love my job, honey.

TURAN: "The Big Short" manages to entertain without diluting the complications or the seriousness of its subject matter. Adam McKay, best known for the "Anchorman" films, smartly directs a top cast headed by Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt. They play men who bet that the conventional wisdom about the American housing market was wrong, wrong, wrong. Introduced first is Doctor Michael Burry, played by Bale. He's a money manager who had doubts about Wall Street maneuvers that even his closest associates thought were crazy.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: So Mike Burry - guy who gets his hair cut at Supercuts and doesn't wear shoes - knows more than Alan Greenspan and Hank Paulson?

CHRISTIAN BALE: (As Michael Burry) Doctor Mike Burry - yes he does.

TURAN: Also crazy, but in a different way, is Ben Rickert, played by Pitt - a conspiracy theorist so suspicious of the government, his associates are never sure which phone number to call him on.


FINN WITTROCK: (As Jamie Shipley) OK, let's try number 2 out of 14.

BRAD PITT: (As Ben Rickert) Ben Rickert.

WITTROCK: (As Jamie Shipley) Ben, why do you do that, man? I mean, you're a retired trader, OK, no one is listening to your calls.

PITT: (As Ben Rickert) The NSA has a $52 billion budget and the ability to monitor tens of millions of calls a second. You think they're not using it?

TURAN: Getting audiences to root for people who are betting on the end of the world is a tricky business, but "The Big Short" does it with quick cutting and jazzy narrative techniques. And it uses celebrity explainers like Selena Gomez and chef Anthony Bourdain to simplify complicated economic concepts. This film contains so much information and comedy, it would be fun to see it twice - not just to take in what it has to tell us, but to laugh all over again.

GREENE: Ken Turan reviews movies for the Los Angeles Times and for MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Kenneth Turan is the film critic for the Los Angeles Times and NPR's Morning Edition, as well as the director of the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes. He has been a staff writer for the Washington Post and TV Guide, and served as the Times' book review editor.