There’s a parable in the Gospel about a man who owed a lot. Not being able to pay, he begged for mercy and it was granted him. Then he turned around a neglected to show mercy to someone who owed him just a fraction of what he had owed. Wrong way to go about things, don’t you think? When it comes to moral and ethical living, we Christians acknowledge there is a right way to do things and a wrong way. Kyle Budwell (Jack O’Connell) had a just demand but he went about getting his answer the wrong way.
Arrogant and Egotistical
Money Monster, directed by Jodie Foster, pits Budwell against Lee Gates (George Clooney), the host of a stock-tips TV show full of ridiculous gimmicks and gadgets (and scantily-clad ladies) called Money Monster. Gates could care less about the people around him. He’s successful and arrogant. He ignores the studio’s crew as he slips in for a live show at the last minute much to the chagrin of the show’s director, Patty Fenn (Julia Roberts).
A Just Demand
When Patty notices a delivery man in the shot, she thinks it’s another gimmick. It’s Budwell and when he pulls out a gun, demands that Gates put on a bomb vest, and puts a bullet in the ceiling, she realizes it’s no joke. The week before, one of Lee’s stock tips told viewers that the stock of IBIS Corporation was as secure as a savings account. Kyle invested all his money, a small amount he inherited after his mother’s death, on Lee’s advice. When IBIS’s stock plummeted, losing $800 million overnight, Kyle loses everything and wants to know why, only no one will listen to him. So he takes Lee and the studio hostage, demanding answers from Lee and Walt Camby (Dominic West), CEO of IBIS.
As the drama plays out on the set, Patty runs the show from the control booth, realizing that their show is being aired live all around the world. Both she and Lee begin to wonder if Kyle has a valid point about the lack of answers coming from IBIS to explain the unexpected overnight drop in stock value. So far, all they’ve said is that there was a computer glitch. Patty starts investigating in hopes of getting answers for Kyle and saving Lee’s life.
The Wrong Way
Looking at the film from a values perspective, there is no question that Kyle deserves an explanation from IBIS. When the corporation’s powers-that-be ignore him, he takes desperate measures to get his answers. The lack of respect shown Kyle makes him think that they only way to be heard is to do wrong and take Lee hostage. Kyle doesn’t want to hurt anyone but he doesn’t know any other way to get a hearing.
And what about the business ethics that put Kyle in this situation in the first place? Corporate greed and market manipulation rear their ugly heads. What about honesty? Then there is the Money Monster show, doling out advice, not considering the consequences of someone actually listening to them and acting on their advice. Are they culpable at all?
Money Monster provides an entertaining ride (although it’s riddled with unnecessary f-bombs) but the story fizzles in the end. Only the performances from Clooney and Roberts keep the film afloat. Jack O’Connell plays Budwell’s tension well, but the Irish actor’s Queens accent gets a bit heavy at times.
There are a lot of things in the film that could lead to meaningful conversation in a group setting but the language, a totally off-the-wall scene featuring an erectile cream experiment, and the lack of a tight story make Money Monster low on the list in the choice of films about business ethics. Try The Company Men, The Insider, or Wall Street for better options.