“Based on the insane true story.” So proclaims the poster for the star-studded new comedic drama Dumb Money.
Indeed, it’s true. And indeed, it was insane.
America was captivated — and Wall Street scared silly — in early 2021 as a group of Reddit-based rebel investors banded together to short squeeze the stock price for the electronics store GameStop. Their scheme sent the value of the moribund brick-and-mortar franchise through the roof, and severely punished the major hedge funds attempting to get richer by betting on its failure.
It’s the type of underdog tale Hollywood loves, which is why the film was fast-tracked, arriving a mere two-and-a-half after the actual events, which were first depicted in the equally speedy 2021 book The Antisocial Network.
“This was so much more than just a story about finance, about markets, a story-of-the-week kind of news story,” Rebecca Angelo, who co-wrote and co-produced Dumb Money with Lauren Schuker Blum, told Yahoo Entertainment at the Toronto International Film Festival, where the film made its world premiere to strong reviews over the weekend.
“It was that moment in time during COVID that everybody stopped and paused and had this self-reflection. It was a very dire time, and people were losing their jobs, losing their homes,” says director Craig Gillespie (I, Tonya, Cruella). “GameStop became a mouthpiece. It became a way, which is why it ballooned to 8 million followers, for people to be heard and to stick it to the uber-wealthy in their wallets, which is where they feel it.”
Just as Adam McKay did with his similarly comedic and fast-paced 2015 stock market cautionary tale, The Big Short, Angelo, Blum and Gillespie recruited an ensemble of bold-faced names for the fictionalized retelling, including Seth Rogen, Pete Davidson, America Ferrera, Sebastian Stan, Shailene Woodley, Nick Offerman, Anthony Ramos and Vincent D’Onofrio.
But it all starts with Paul Dano (Little Miss Sunshine, The Fabelmans) as Keith Gill, the rebel ringleader known on social media as both DeepF***ingValue (DFV) and RoaringKitty and who led the short squeeze, at one point turning a $53,000 investment into $50 million.
“We were also immediately struck by the character of Keith Gill,” says Schuker Blum. “He’s such a unique person. He’s this reluctant hero.”
“There are so many wild things about Keith, adds Angelo. “But he’s one of the rare populist leaders who's not a crazy narcissist, who isn’t just chasing fame and attention and money.”
In fact, despite becoming a cult hero to legions of “little guy” investors, Gill completely disappeared from the public eye after testifying about the GameStop short squeeze in February 2021. (Although Angelo and Schuker Blum managed to visit Gill at his home while writing the film, they were not ultimately able to use him as a resource.)
Still, the legacy of what he and his followers achieved lives on.
“It was something that told us so much about why we are where we are as a culture and what people can do about it,” says Angelo. “Because I think it’s very easy to look around and say, ‘Things are broken, the system is rigged. There’s not a lot of hope.’ But here’s one story where people were able to come together and achieve something kind of miraculous.”
Dumb Money opens in New York and Los Angeles on Sept. 15, expand to limited release on Sept. 22, and goes wide on Sept. 29.
Watch the trailer: