(US - 2016)
Directed by Jodie Foster. Written by Jamie Linden, Alan DiFiore and Jim Kouf. Cast: George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jack O'Connell, Dominic West, Caitriona Balfe, Giancarlo Esposito, Lenny Venito, Christopher Denham, Chris Bauer, Emily Meade, Dennis Boutsikaris, John Ventimiglia, Condola Rashad, Aaron Yoo, Carsey Walker Jr, Grant Rosenmeyer, Olivia Luccardi. (R, 98 mins)
The kind of slick, hot-button star vehicle that was a weekly thing back in the 1990s, the George Clooney-Julia Roberts-headlined MONEY MONSTER probably could've been released 20 years ago with, say, Michael Douglas and uh, I guess Julia Roberts, and not been much different. While obviously not in the same league, it's a throwback "New York City" movie in the vein of DOG DAY AFTERNOON, but probably owes more to (and comes off better than) Costa-Gavras' forgotten 1997 flop MAD CITY, where an improbably cast Dustin Hoffman was an ambitious TV news reporter in a hostage situation instigated by an unemployed security guard played by a set of sideburns attached to John Travolta. MONEY MONSTER opens with disgruntled package service delivery driver Kyle Budwell (Jack O'Connell) crashing the live broadcast of the cable financial news show MONEY MONSTER, hosted by the smugly arrogant and almost buffoonish Lee Gates (Clooney). Suggesting a more roguishly handsome MAD MONEY host Jim Cramer combined with the grating, "look at me!" showmanship of Jimmy Fallon, Gates is the kind of "news-as-entertainment" jagoff who has softball interviews with money experts, mockingly dons gold chains and has choreographed routines with backing dancers, and has his snarky one-liners punctuated with cheesy horror movie clips and zany sound effects straight out of the "wacky radio morning zoo" playbook. There's a lot to suggest that the cocky, strutting Gates is regarded as a clown by Wall Street: as the film opens, a financial guru and "friend of the show" cancels their dinner plans for the seventh time and blows him off on the phone, and Gates' long-suffering director Patty Fenn (Roberts), who tells one guest "We don't do gotcha journalism here...hell, we don't even do journalism here," has accepted a job with another show and has yet to tell her boss she's leaving.