Sunday, March 13, 2016

Video review: "The Big Short"

Fresh off its Oscar win for Best Adapted Screenplay (and a strong late bid for Best Picture), I’m hoping more people will give “The Big Short” a look. I’ve no doubt many potential ticket buyers took one look at the subject matter – high finance rebels who foresaw the real estate bubble bursting – and said, “No, thanks.”

What they need to know is how smart, funny and downright entertaining this movie is. While its primary fuel is anger at a rigged system, the film uses comedy as its entry point.

Consider Adam McKay, director and co-writer, whose previous credits include lowbrow comedies “Anchorman,” “Step Brothers” and “The Other Guys.” And Steve Carell as Mike Baum, a cartoonishly loud and obnoxious money manager. Even Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt and Christian Bale, actors not normally known for eliciting laughs, are funny and engaging in an ensemble cast with no real traditional lead.

What’s most astounding is how the film takes a complex subject and breaks it down into digestible bites. The problem began when financial institutions started packaging risky mortgages as assets to be traded and sold. There’s no real single villain, just a system in which everyone looked the other way -- including the government’s watchdogs -- in order to maintain the appearance of financial stability.

Hilarious and bitter, “The Big Short” is a heist movie in which we’re the ones getting fleeced, and the good guys are the ones pointing to the crime who get dismissed as loons.

Bonus features are pretty decent, though you’ll have to buy the Blu-ray upgrade to get them: the DVD contains none.

These include five making-of documentary shorts: “In the Trenches: Casting,” “The Big Leap: Adam McKay,” “Unlikely Heroes: The Characters of The Big Short,” “The House of Cards: The Rise of the Fall” and “Getting Rea: Recreating an Era.” There are also several deleted scenes.



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