Money Never Sleeps Reviews: Let the Whuppin’ Begin
By Paul Springer
The Gordon Gekko redux sequel to the film Wall Street meets the criteria for long-awaited, but apparently many viewers were only waiting to take the film out to the wood shed and deliver the critical spanking of a lifetime.
And why not? The flick is a grotesque love child between Hollywood and Wall Street. Any offspring from such a combination is almost assuredly an abomination in the eyes of any God in which one chooses to believe — of course it deserves a beating.
Nonetheless, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps is the talk of the town, particularly within financial circles and, since critical responses to movies are sometimes fascinating in themselves, we seek here to present the most studied of all the various verbal lynchings published to date.
(Disclosure: Inordinately positive reviews that failed to meet our threshold for snark and venom have been completely ignored in order to maintain a high level of mockery.)
One might expect The Wall Street Journal to feel some empathy for any cinematic scenario with Wall Street at its heart. But unfortunately, one would err. The Journal likes Douglas, but oozes spiteful ichor on everything else:
Mr. Douglas’s performance in the sequel measures up to Gekko’s rep, but the rest of the movie is pumped up to the bursting point with gasbag caricatures, overblown sermons and a semicoherent swirl of events surrounding the economy’s recent meltdown.
Biting commentary, and one that could apply just as easily to recent FOMC meetings.
The Fly also likes Gecko, but not so much as The Journal:
Of course Gekko was good; but not as good as the original. You can only tolerate so many one liners, without thinking this man is a fortune cookie with legs and arms. The plot was good, although scattered. Oliver Stone definitely missed out on a huge opportunity to nail a stake into the Wall Street elite. Instead of showing real, tangible, causalities of the credit crisis, they opted to gloss over it and show glamor.
The New York Times sprays over a thousand words in its review, in which the director recurs as a leitmotif:
Oliver Stone is not the man to explain Wall Street, or to stoke public indignation at its crimes. But no one else could turn it into a show like “Wall Street.”
The Times essentially claims the movie — and by implication its director — is schizophrenic: “This movie is by turns brilliant and dumb, naïve and wise, nowhere near good enough and something close to great.” So is the review, which spans centuries in its references to Milton’s Satan and William Blake.
Ever the wafter of celebrity hagiographies, Vanity Fair actually thinks the movie has street cred:
The makers of Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps have done their homework — the writers interviewed dozens of bankers, Stone’s father worked on Wall Street, Brolin was once a day trader, and LaBeouf passed his Series 7 — and that shows. The alphabet soup of C.D.O’s, C.D.S’s, M.B.S.’s, etc., is appropriately dizzying, reflecting the complexity of the instruments that led to disaster.
A rhesus monkey could pass the Series 7 exam, and hey — I had an uncle who worked in Hollywood! I interviewed dozens of bankers too and… wait, where’s my wallet and belt?!
It’s hard to mark out a clear winner in the race to criticize the movie, but my personal favorite goes to Blast Magazine, which had no problem coming out ad hominem against Michael Douglas:
I feel sad when I look at Michael Douglas. He still has capacity for perfect line delivery and a vicious sense of humor. But, to be blunt, the man has had so much plastic surgery, he literally can’t give an expression beyond snakelike surprise. Watching Douglas’ zombified corpse stumble around and attempt to move his paralyzed facial muscles is terrible, especially when compared to the virile animal who latched on to Charlie Sheen in the first film.
That’s pretty cold, but for our part, we look at the movie the same way Gekko looked at each company he dismembered in the original Wall Street. We don’t need to know anything about it. Anyone who was truly on Wall Street during the financial crisis knows all too well that it can’t be summed up in pithy one-liners and characters sent down from Central Casting. Like most of Stone’s films, including JFK, the largest risk is that a generation of young people will view the movie as history writ large, and assume it accurately portrays what really happened.
If you’re reading this article on Trader Daily, you probably already know nothing could be further from the truth.
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