Big Short Makes a Tragedy Funny

And that's a tall order, say critics
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 11, 2015 11:41 AM CST

A film about the players involved in the 2008 financial crisis might sound like a bore, even with Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt, Steve Carell, and—oddly—Selena Gomez, along for the ride. However, The Big Short, a nominee for the best picture Golden Globe, is anything but. Here's what critics are saying:

  • "Director Adam McKay channels his own anger into something rarely even attempted by Hollywood, let alone pulled off: a comedy about a tragedy," writes Gersh Kuntzman at the New York Daily News. Celebs pop in to "explain an esoteric bit of financial jargon," Kuntzman writes. "It's not only funny, but … it may be the greatest legacy of The Big Short." Both Bale and Carell deliver "Oscar-worthy performances," he adds.
  • "At the end, your brain hurts and you feel sick to your stomach … But that queasy, empty feeling is the point," writes AO Scott at the New York Times. "There is no happy ending to this story," yet "the teams conspiring to short the market are impossible not to root for, and the work of the movie's sprawling ensemble is never less than delightful." The Big Short is "a true crime story and a madcap comedy, a heist movie and a scalding polemic," Scott writes. It's "terrifically enjoyable."

  • Rafer Guzman disagrees. "With energetic pacing and zippy dialogue, The Big Short is often entertaining—a screwball comedy with an angry streak," he writes at Newsday. "If only the film could sustain that tone." He argues it’s all a bit "muddled" and it's not clear who the heroes of the story actually are. "In the end these financiers made money on our losses. That's a difficult pill, and The Big Short doesn't have quite enough finesse to make us swallow it."
  • Laughs are somewhat expected from the director who brought you Anchorman. But The Big Short manages to be funny "without diluting the complications—or the gravity—of its subject matter" and while reminding viewers that "millions of Americans suffered because of the actions of a few," writes Kenneth Turan at the Los Angeles Times. That's no small feat. In fact, "the film packs in so much information and comedy, it would be fun to see it twice."
(More Steve Carell stories.)

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