Dumb Money: Is The 2023 Movie Inspired by Real-Life Incidents?

The captivating tale of Keith Gill, the trailblazer behind the Gamestop Stock buying frenzy, takes center stage in the ‘Dumb Money,’ directed by Craig Gillespie. The movie delves into the personal narratives of individuals who played pivotal roles in the Wall Street turmoil of 2021. It explores how the unraveling of this financial saga had far-reaching repercussions for all those involved, shedding light on the multifaceted consequences that emerged from this significant event. It boasts an impressive ensemble cast featuring notable talents such as Oscar-nominated Paul Dano and Seth Rogen, along with the exceptionally talented Shailene Woodley, Pete Davidson, America Ferrera, and Sebastian Stan.

The biographical comedy-drama bravely shines a light on the personal stories that often become obscured within such massive global events. Given its sensational nature, it’s no surprise that viewers might question whether the movie is based on a true story. To delve into the details and uncover the connection between ‘Dumb Money’ and actual events, let’s explore together, shall we?

Dumb Money is Based on Real People

The screenplay for the film is based on Ben Mezrich’s book titled ‘The Antisocial Network’ and has been boldly adapted to screen by writers Lauren Schuker Blum and Rebecca Angelo. It draws inspiration from the GameStop short squeeze that unfolded in early 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic. An asset management firm named Melvin Capital had taken a substantial short position on video-game retailer GameStop, betting that its stock price would fall. However, financial analyst and investor Keith Gill, a social media influencer widely known for his enthusiasm about the stock market, shared his belief in the undervaluation of GameStop.

Keith’s posts on platforms like Reddit, particularly in the r/WallStreetBets community, garnered significant attention. As more people from this online community began buying GameStop stocks, it triggered a dramatic surge in the stock price. This unexpected turn of events resulted in a financial short squeeze on the powerful financial giant Melvin Capital as they incurred huge losses and decided to fight the internet sensation who had wreaked such havoc in their lives. Apart from a few creative liberties taken for the sake of entertainment, the narrative of the movie is largely rooted in reality and showcases the events as they actually happened in real life.

Regarding the creation of the screenplay, Rebecca Angelo explained in an interview, “There was no book. Yeah, we’ve watched the story unfold in real-time, just kind of slack-jawed, like I think most people who are aware of it, and then very quickly, Hollywood fell in love with the story, because it’s a classic David and Goliath story… we were very, very lucky to get a treatment that Ben Mezrich had written for the book that became his work, and really quickly fell in love with the story, and got excited about it and came on.”

The film is firmly grounded in reality, featuring portrayals of actual individuals such as Keith Gill, known as the internet celebrity Roaring Kitty, brought to life with exceptional eccentricity by Paul Dano. Keith’s wife and brother, played by Shailene Woodley and Pete Davidson, respectively, are also based on real-life individuals, adding to the authenticity and depth of the storytelling. Another pivotal figure from the true story is Gabe Plotkin, the founder of the New York hedge fund Melvin Capital, skillfully portrayed by Seth Rogen, representing the Wall Street perspective in the narrative.

The movie also includes numerous real-life CEOs and powerful millionaires and billionaires, such as the current owner of the Mets, Steve Cohen (Vincent D’Onofrio), and Ken Griffin (Nick Offerman) from the financial world, who were deeply involved in the escalating crisis. It weaves individual narratives of ordinary investors, introducing characters like a nurse named Jenny, portrayed by America Ferrera, a GameStop sales clerk named Marcus, played by Anthony Ramos, and a pair of undergraduate students from the University of Texas named Riri and Harmony, brought to life by Myha’la Herrold and Talia Ryder.

These characters’ journeys are prominently featured at the start of the film, and their stories have been dramatized and incorporated to enrich the cinematic experience, providing a more comprehensive and engaging perspective on the events and their impact on various kinds of individuals. Craig Gillespie has exhibited exceptional skill in addressing the political fervor that was intertwined with real-life events. He has successfully depicted the far-reaching consequences of internet populism, income inequality, and public discontent that surrounded the unfolding of these events. His nuanced portrayal captures the broader societal and political implications of the story, adding depth and relevance to the narrative.

Talking about the essence of the film, Craig said, “To me, it was like it was a moment in time with COVID that we’ll never probably experience again. It’s the isolation, the stress levels, the real frustration of the wealth disparity that was happening, the lack of government handouts, the social causes that happened with the Black Lives Matter movement, there was just a lot of discontent, a lot of accountability of people reassessing their lives and their priorities. Then, this opportunity came along to voice that discontent, it happened to be a stock for a lot of people, but it was a way to show the frustration and the anger at a system that they feel is rigged.” The incident gained significant national attention and even reached the halls of Congress.

On January 28, 2021, the House Financial Services Committee conducted a remote hearing where crucial witnesses, including Keith Gill, were summoned to provide testimony. It has now been two years since Keith has posted anything on his YouTube channel, which has amassed half a million subscribers. Additionally, the infamous Reddit channel associated with these events was banned during the investigations. There are rumors that Keith has experienced a substantial increase in wealth compared to his previous financial status, as he reportedly cashed in some of his GameStop shares. If true, this newfound wealth must likely allow him to lead a more private and low-profile life.

Read More: Where Was Dumb Money Filmed?