Money Monster Film Review :
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Financial TV host Lee Gates and his producer Patty are put in an extreme situation when an irate investor takes over their studio.
Drop Jim Cramer into “Network” and you have “Money Monster”—and yet the result never ends up being quite as thrilling or thought-provoking as that premise sounds.
Jodie Foster has directed a real-time drama that’s lean, efficient and benefits from the enormous charisma of George Clooney in the starring role as a slick, smug financial pundit. And in a bit of an “Ocean’s Eleven” reunion, Clooney totally unsurprisingly has an easy, snappy chemistry with Julia Roberts as his longtime director/voice of reason. But this time, they’re not the ones stealing the money; rather, they end up feeling the repercussions of a massive swindle.
The film’s rage is unmistakable. And yet, despite its present-day setting, it feels rather retro—as if “Money Monster” just narrowly missed the window for maximum relevance where movies like “The Big Short” and “99 Homes” thrived.
It’s easy to imagine Clooney’s Lee Gates scheming and preening as he presides over the airwaves at a CNBC-style cable channel, though. The script from Jamie Linden and Alan DiFiore & Jim Kouf definitely gets the live television details right—the buzzing energy, the gallows humor, the technical elements. Like Cramer on his signature show “Mad Money,” Lee makes potentially dry stock talk lively with gimmicky graphics, sound effects and a generally bombastic personality. The great cinematographer Matthew Libatique (who, coincidentally, also shot Spike Lee’s “Inside Man,” which covered similar territory and featured a brilliant Foster performance) captures it all with intimacy and verve.
Lee may or may not truly care about the stocks and funds he promotes; he may or may not even be all that knowledgeable. But Clooney being Clooney, he makes this soulless shell of a man thoroughly engaging; Roberts’ sharp and serene Patty Fenn, always the smartest person in the room, keeps him in check. The actual time they spend on-screen together is minimal—he’s mainly on set, she’s mainly in the booth—but the connection between these two longtime friends and co-stars still crackles.