Home Page > Movies Index (w/mixed oldies) > > Movie Review

This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

The Big Shot

The Big Short (2015) on IMDb

Plot Overview

“The Big Short” (2015) is a gonzo docudrama about the housing market bubble collapse of 2008. Subprime mortgages are nicely explained by an articulate Margot Robbie in a bubble bath, being crap mortgages given to people at high risk of ever paying them off. These were bundled together by the thousands along with higher grade mortgages to reduce the net risk. Tutorials on Mortgage-backed Securities (MBS), Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs), Credit Default Swaps, Tranches, Bond Ratings, Subprime ARMs, and—horror of horrors—Synthetic CDOs prepare us to follow financial machinations that implicate big banks and investment firms, the Federal Reserve, rating agencies, mortgage brokers, the SEC, fund managers, realtors and traders. Companies named include Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, The Wall Street Journal, WAMU, Lehman Brothers, Option One, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank, Barclays, and Bear Stearns. Other companies were involved but preferred anonymity … as if.

The human drama beneath this documentary follows fund manager & savant analyst Michael Burry, M.D. (Christian Bale) at Scion Hedge Fund who firstpicks up on the mortgage bond market vulner­ability in March, 2005, and takes his investors down a primrose path betting against the banks who are more than happy to take their money. Trader Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling) seeking commissions on similar deals is ignored by all investors until a wrong number connects him to hedge fund manager Mark Baum (Steve Carell) who goes for the opportunity despite twinges of conscience. “Garage band” investors Jamie Shipley (Finn Wittrock) and Charlie Gellar (John Magaro) with an eye for oppor­tunity pick up rumblings on the grape­vine and use an acquaintance, former trader Ben Rickert (Brad Pitt) to get them a seat at the table with the big shots.

The rest is history, but “The Big Short” cuts to the chase and keeps us entertained with a variety of gimmicks, though as I remember nobody was laughing at the time.


The earliest person to allow for a housing bubble collapse with global ramifications would be Noah looking after the interests of his sons after the Flood. Let's look again at Noah's story (Jasher 5:14-17):

And the Lord said unto Noah, Take unto thee a wife, and beget children, for I have seen thee righteous before me in this generation. And thou shalt raise up seed, and thy children with thee, in the midst of the earth; and Noah went and took a wife, and he chose Naamah the daughter of Enoch, and she was five hundred and eighty years old. And Noah was four hundred and ninety-eight years old, when he took Naamah for a wife. And Naamah conceived and bare a son, and he called his name Japheth, saying, God has enlarged me in the earth; and she conceived again and bare a son, and he called his name Shem, saying, God has made me a remnant, to raise up seed in the midst of the earth.

Shem and Japheth were full brothers, Noah's son Ham was born at a later date (the youngest, see Gen. 9:24) perhaps from a different mother. Noah's wife was older than he was. Perhaps at 580+ years she was no longer able to bear children after the first two. She didn't have any more after the flood, even though it was a time to repopulate the earth. Maybe she stopped bearing long before the flood. Ham was likely the step­brother of the other two, a brother from another mother.

BS develops a subplot of Mark Baum's protracted grief after his brother's suicide whom he didn't help in time. Cynthia (Marisa Tomei) Baum's concerned wife chides him for berating himself too much over it. He needs to step it down a notch. Just a little. Like the difference in degree between a step brother and full brother.

(Jasher 5:34-35) “In his five hundred and ninety-fifth year Noah commenced to make the ark, and he made the ark in five years, as the Lord had commanded. Then Noah took the three daughters of Eliakim, son of Methuselah, for wives for his sons, as the Lord had commanded Noah.” That ark was an awfully big project for the four of them to complete in five years. Maybe they used slave labor. If Ham were the son of a slave girl, that would further reduce his status.

After the Flood there was an incident, Gen. 9:20-22, where Noah got drunk on wine and was exposed in his tent in all his glory to his son Ham who brazenly viewed him so. Noah's other two sons, Shem and Japheth, covered him up, Gen. 9:23. Ham had violated him in some way, Gen. 9:24. Noah's curse puts Ham's youngest son Canaan in a position of servitude, Gen. 9:25. Noah's other two sons Shem, Gen. 9:26, and Japheth, Gen. 9:27, were blessed by Noah, Japheth dwelling in the blessed tents of Shem. For Ham to dwell there too would have created a housing bubble.

Margot Robbie covered by bubbles in a bath, sipping from a flute of champagne, telling the audience to get out of there once she'd finished her spiel, evokes this whole story of Noah's uncovered drunkenness. Ham's ball in Genesis was picked up by son Canaan emphasized because of his descendants' critical dealings with the Israelites later on, but it seems to be carried by another of Ham's sons' descendants more recently. Researcher Bodie Hodge confirms that “As a general trend, Ham is the father of many peoples in Africa” (122). Dr. Ide adds, “Ham sired four sons: Cush (translates as ‘black’) … and Canaan the youngest” (62). Names get passed down through the generations, and Cush being Hebrew for ‘black’ eventually becomes, (Acts 13:1) “Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as … Simeon that was called Niger.” Niger is Latin for ‘black’, eventually becoming nègre French for ‘black’ and Negro Spanish for ‘black’ (and similar words in Italian and Portuguese.) There are various ‘n’ words in English, or just plain black. As a matter of political cor­rectness the (PC) term of choice here in the USA is African-American being a moniker that doesn't go back as far as Cush or Ham. Writer Bodie Hodge (134) quotes “Bible Questions and Answers,” from The Golden Age (July 24, 1929): p. 702.

Question: Is there anything in the Bible that reveals the origin of the Negro?

Answer: It is generally believed that the curse which Noah pronounced upon Canaan was the origin of the Black race. Certain it is that when Noah said, “Cursed be Canaan, a servant of servants shall he be to his brethren,” he pictured the future of the Colored race.

BS illustrates with bets getting passed on by a casino full of chain bettors, which could illustrate generational movements as well as the derivatives explicitly mentioned. A bouil­la­baisse containing bad fish could illustrate Integration as well as the bundling of good and bad stocks together. Due to the civil rights movement in the US, banks were forced to issue mortgages to blacks in particular and poor in general who normally would have been refused as bad risks. In terms of drama, we could take a page from writer Stuart Neville (120–21):

Inside, porters and receptionists eyed him with suspicion. A man with a thin mustache asked, “Can I help you, sir?”

They knew Ryan didn't belong here, so did he. The clientele of this place dressed well, lived well, and ate well in its restaurant and tea rooms. They came from the country estates outside Dublin, or the grand city houses with archways leading to stable blocks. They rode horses through Phoenix Park, they went to the races, they took holidays abroad and gave generously to charities.

The people of high risk who got those generous mortgages knew they shouldn't be qualified, as did the banks. When the variable rate kicked in at the higher amount, they were bound to default if they hadn't already. That led to a chain of events similar to those in, (Amos 8:4) “Hear this, O ye that swallow up the needy, even to make the poor of the land to fail.”

(Amos 8:5-6) “Saying, When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? and the sabbath, that we may set forth wheat, making the ephah small, and the shekel great, and falsifying the balances by deceit? That we may buy the poor for silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes; yea, and sell the refuse of the wheat?” The rich were in a hurry to get richer, the bundles of subprime mortgages were over­valued well after they started to falter, and the poor were to lose homes and possessions.

(Amos 8:7-8) “The LORD hath sworn by the excellency of Jacob, Surely I will never forget any of their works. Shall not the land tremble for this, and every one mourn that dwelleth therein? and it shall rise up wholly as a flood; and it shall be cast out and drowned, as by the flood of Egypt.” The whole economy tanked, which could have been predicted on the giving of mortgages to people sans documents, with no security and little hope, as per, (Prov. 30:21-22) “the earth is disquieted, and … it cannot bear: … a servant when he reigneth.”

Production Values

This movie “” (2015) was directed by Adam McKay. Its screen­play was written by Charles Randolph and Adam McKay. It was based on the best-selling book The Big Short by Michael Lewis. It features actors Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt, Marisa Tomei, Finn Wittrock, John Magaro, Rafe Spall, Hamish Linklater, Jeremy Strong, Melissa Leo, Max Greenfield, and Tracy Letts. Steve Carell is really good as the good guy, and displays a fulsome range. Christian Bale also turns in a great performance as a some­what socially awkward economics expert. Brad Pitt's character of a hedge-fund advisor is slightly under­written but his (bearded) presence makes up for it. He and Ryan Gosling do have lesser roles but they were entertaining. Pop-culture icons like Selena Gomez and Anthony Bourdon exercised a refreshing command of the spoken word to lighten the film's more arcane material. Generally speaking the whole cast was great.

MPAA rated it R for pervasive language and some sexuality/nudity. The editing is a real trip, varyingly paced montages, slow-motion sequences, on-screen graphics, unusual narration, and hot chicks spouting deep messages. It was cleverly done to break up any monotony.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

I found “The Big Short” both entertaining and informative, but then I had some Economics in Engineering school and view movies to study them, so I might get less lost than a rank novice. But the movie makers gave it the old college try. An economics major might think they were being cute, but they had to strike a balance some­where. I think it's worth a viewing, but I wouldn't go in for multiple viewings—the surprises would be gone. The film looks good on the big screen yet would play well on a home platform.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: No action, white collar adventure. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Well done special effects. Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall product rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quoted from the King James Version.Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Hodge, Bodie. Tower of Babel: The Cultural History of Our Ancestors. Green Forest, AR: New Leaf Pub., 2013. Print.

Ide, Arthur Frederick. Noah & the Ark: The Influence of Sex, Homo­phobia and Hetero­sexism in the Flood Story and its Writing. Las Colinas: Monument Press, 1992. Print.

The Book of Jasher. Trans­lated from the Hebrew into English (1840). Photo litho­graphic reprint of exact edition published by J.H. Parry & Co., Salt Lake City: 1887. Muskogee, OK: Artisan Pub., 1988. Print, WEB.

Neville, Stuart. Ratlines. New York: Soho Press, 2013. Print.