29. Money Monster

Another George Clooney movie means that I’m there!  I haven’t always been that way regarding George.  I’ve always thought he was talented, but he wasn’t must-see for me until relatively recently, when he put out The Descendants.  I was also a huge fan of Up In The Air.  One of those two would be my favorite Clooney movie, but I’m unable to decide which one.  (Confession: I never went back to watch the Ocean’s series. Heist movies aren’t normally my thing.  I’m sure I’ll watch them at some point, though.)

Clooney isn’t the only big name attached to Money Monster, as you may know.  But this movie gets a star-power boost both in front of and behind the camera, as Julia Roberts costars and the almost-reclusive (professionally speaking) Jodie Foster sits in the director’s chair.  Foster has only directed a couple of full-length motion pictures leading up to this one, with the most recent being 2011’s The Beaver (which I did not see).  Her last acting role was a while ago, as well, in 2013’s Elysium (which I saw and didn’t care for.  That movie almost caused me to miss out on Edge of Tomorrow, due to their seeming similarities according to the marketing.  Luckily, I didn’t miss that one, and neither should you.).  She got mixed reviews for her performance in that one and she hasn’t worked since.  Until now.

I was looking forward to this one as soon as I first saw the trailer.  The cast/director/concept combination was just too much for me to resist.  So, I sat down with great anticipation and expectations.  I wasn’t let down.

Money Monster works on every level that one could hope for.  There is a complexity to both the story and the characters but the film never gets bogged down in trying to come off as intelligent.  Quite frankly, it doesn’t need to hit the audience over the head with that fact because it pretty easily speaks for itself.  This is the most intelligent film I’ve seen so far in 2016.

But it’s not all smarts.  The proceedings are anchored by raw emotion perfectly delivered by the stellar cast.  You’ve likely seen the trailers and/or TV spots and know that Clooney’s Lee Gates hosts a popular financial market program and is held hostage live on air by Jack O’Connell’s Kyle.  Gates’s producer, Patty (Julia Roberts) is in Gates’s ear throughout the ordeal, talking him through and trying to help find a way to resolve the situation.

So, emotion is expected.  But there’s more than you think and expect going on here.  Surprise events and revelations unfold and they do so without ever feeling forced or as if the audience is being asked to suspend disbelief.  The entire film possesses a sense of authenticity.

That authenticity carries over into the social commentary.  Money Monster is the most accurate statement on modern society that I’ve seen in quite a while, if not ever. Many people today see those who they perceive as being “better off” than them – due to some sort of status-related hierarchy – as inhuman.  Celebrities aren’t real people.  The rich must be a-holes.  And those people are there for the Little Guy’s entertainment.  Or to be their verbal whipping boy behind the protection of the Internet.  It’s an attempt to make oneself feel more powerful at the expense of those who are actually seen as having power.  Just go to any celebrity’s Facebook page and read the comments under one of their posts.  Look at the hate being thrown at President Obama.

It’s very disconcerting and that sad state of humanity is put on full display in Money Monster as people gather in bars, restaurants, and their living rooms to watch the scenario play out on live television, not with concern for anyone directly involved, but with amusement and smirks on their faces.  It’s a brutally honest portrayal of the world as it exists, today, and kudos to Foster for calling society out on it.

Money Monster is equal parts brain, heart, and energy (and George Clooney’s dancing!).  You know how it begins, but you aren’t ready for where it goes from there.  The film got a standing ovation after it played at Cannes and I would have been standing right along with them, had I been there.  It’s the best film of the year so far (Captain America: Civil War– a film sharing the common theme of responsibility – held that title for only a week!) and should be at the top of any film-lover’s must-see list.

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