You’ve never seen Steve Carell so pissed off
The Big Short is a comedy-drama based around the financial crash of the American housing market in 2007. It tells the true story of 4 opportunist investors who after hearing about recluse Michael Burry’s (Christian Bale) prediction of the world economies collapse through faulty loans in the housing industry, then decide to take full advantage of America’s impending doom and invest boldly in betting against the big banks. We are led through the chaos by Jared Vennett, (Ryan Gosling) with supporting performances from Brad Pitt and a furious Steve Carell as investor Mark Baum.
Adam McKay who is known for making movies with not such a significant subject matter wrote and directed this intensely paced biopic. Commonly working with Will Ferrell on well received comedies such as Anchorman and The Other Guys, not only does this film not include Ferrell but it deviates from the sort of humor shown in all the rest of his movies. Being neither crude or slapstick, the humor is very quick-witted and is brought on through the characters rather than the writing itself.
McKay’s witty dialogue and approach to the source material is by far the best part about The Big Short. With the complexity of the subject matter adapting a screenplay which also incorporates high amounts of comedy must have been a tricky task, however McKay succeeded greatly with a fantastically written screenplay which is both hilarious and very accessible. In fact McKay focuses so much on making sure the viewers are able to understand the plot that he introduces celebrity cameo’s to literally spell out what certain banking lingo means as there is a heavy usage of terms which I certainly did not know prior to watching this film. However, as undoubtedly helpful as these scenes are, they come across as being rather tacky as it feels like McKay diverts back to the comedy in his other films rather than the style shown in The Big Short.
Even though these characters are clearly betting against banks for their own interest and greed, I did not feel that these characters were performing these immoral actions without a sense of their own doubt. This is because main characters such as Mark Baum were very well fleshed out and understood that their actions could only lead to their own personal benefit and that so many people would suffer. Baum is a typically angry investor but eventually becomes angry for the right reasons.
Steve Carell is brilliant yet again in a role which not only gives him the ability to show off his dramatic acting, but also the comedy which he is known and loved for. Christian Bale’s portrayal of social introvert Michael Burry is also a good performance however I am surprised that it is Bale and not Carell receiving recognition from awards ceremonies as Bale really doesn’t bring anything new to the table in terms of his character. I also believe a lot of his performance can be credited to the prosthetic glass eye in which Burry wears, similarly to Carell’s prosthetic nose in Foxcatcher.
I respect Adam McKay greatly for making this film because of how different it is to the rest of his catalog, and after how successful The Big Short has been hopefully we will see divert in to other genre’s in the future. However, the sharp editing and camera style of this movie did not gel well together, and I believe this is down to McKay’s direction. The film is littered with crash zooms to create an unprofessional yet documentary style feel to parody all these seemingly professional characters, which in turn attempts to create a more realistic movie, yet all it did was get on my nerves.
It’s messy yet undoubtedly entertaining with the overall accessibility of The Big Short being really quite outstanding. And who doesn’t want to see Hollywood funny man Steve Carell burn red in the face with anger for a few hours?