The Big Short Review Roundup: Can Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling and Christian Bale Successfully Make Light of the Financial Crisis?

Steve Carell, Christian Bale and Ryan Gosling star in this Golden Globe-nominated film

By Francesca Bacardi Dec 10, 2015 8:28 PMTags
The Big Short, Christian BaleParamount Pictures

Just because a film is nominated for a Golden Globe or an Academy Award doesn't necessarily mean it's a crowd pleaser. Often times critically acclaimed movies aren't well received by audiences, so people will find themselves confused by many contenders. Is this the case with The Big Short, one of the 2016 Golden Globes nominees starring Steve Carell, Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling and more A-listers?

Thankfully it's not.

Read what critics have to say about the movie that turns the "sobering deconstruction of the financial crisis" into a "surprisingly entertaining film."

Polygon writes: "That is perhaps the most striking element of The Big Short: The protagonists are not heroes, and we are not meant to identify with them. All of them knowingly bet against the American people and make out like bandits, regardless of how conflicted they feel about doing so.

"It's so astounding that it becomes absurdly hilarious; you laugh at these greedy buffoons to keep from crying," the review continues. "Carell, in particular, is tremendous in this respect: Every time you think he can't possibly look any more gobsmacked at how broken the system is, he goes further."

Paramount Pictures

The Wall Street Journal writes: "Only in America, though, could filmmakers illuminate such a dire subject, and the financial debacle that ensued, with the sort of scathing wit, joyous irreverence and brilliant boisterousness that make The Big Short an improbable triumph.

"All four stars are smart, fascinating and funny in their respective ways, so much so that their performances—and the script's solid moral structure—sweep away any concerns about asking us to root for people who get unimaginably rich by betting against the health of the American economy."

Entertainment Weekly notes: "[Director Adam] McKay's film weaves these outsized characters together with snappy effortlessness. And whenever they're against-the-grain schemes start to get to the point of becoming too arcane or Byzantine, the director playfully breaks the fourth wall to allow the audience to catch up... I suppose you could call The Big Short a comedy. It's very, very funny. But it's also a tragedy. Behind every easy drive-by laugh is a sincere holler of outrage."

Glenn Kenny of writes, "And it really is quite a movie: entertaining and engaging, but also mortifying; a good alternate title might be American Horror Story. The film intertwines three discrete storylines...I started off feeling skeptical about this movie: the hairstyles and clothes of the main characters were more ‘90s music-video than early 2000s, and the sometimes-color-desaturated flashbacks to some characters' back stories were a little on the drearily commonplace side. But the narrative momentum, combined with the profane wit of much of the dialogue, and the committed acting going on beneath the hairpieces, all did their job."

IGN lauds the movie's efforts but notes that its length hurts its efforts: "Its long running time is keenly felt when the film loses momentum in the homestretch, which is unfortunate considering it's all been building up to the inevitable meltdown and its 'I told you so' aftermath. Ultimately, this is Adam McKay's show and his bitter contempt for how the whole thing got so out of control informs every facet of this self-aware and often hilarious diatribe. It provokes the necessary outrage at the system and its failures and corruption."

Will you see The Big Short?