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Friday, May 13, 2016

Money Monster 2016 * * Stars

Money MonsterDirector: Jodie Foster
Year: 2016
Rated R
Rating: * * Stars
Cast: George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jack O'Connell

With last year's Secret in Their Eyes and this year's Money Monster (my latest review), Julia Roberts has managed to truly become a nettlesome screen presence. Yes we all know she won an Oscar. But scene after scene of her talking in George Clooney's earpiece (he plays a boob tube host, she plays his executive producer) literally feels like nails on a chalkboard. She's part of the problem, not the solution. Oh I almost forgot, her Secret in Their Eyes and "Monster" also translate into all things USA Network (that means they feel made for TV). Hmm, that can't be good.

Anyway, Money Monster with its reminisce of The Truman Show (reality television) and 2002's Phone Booth (similar running times along with the whole hostage diegesis thing), is directed by famed actress Jodie Foster. She has made four films of which I haven't seen the other three. Whereas "Truman Show" and "Booth" had a sizable amount of suspense and absorbing moments, "Monster" fails to generate any real tension. Hey, it's not all Foster's fault. She moves things along at a decent clip and the editing by Matt Chesse (World War Z, Machine Gun Preacher) allows the film to sort of earn its minimal twists and turns. No the complications here arise from the silly overacting of the antagonist (Jack O'Connell as Kyle Budwell), the silly overacting of his pregnant girlfriend (played by Emily Meade), the injection of out of place humor, the extras in "Monster" that seem expressionless, and of course, Roberts. In all honesty, this is a thriller and I should have left the theater shaken. Instead, my fingernails were intact, my resting heart rate perceived to be like 60, and I just felt a little meh. Result: A mediocre flick that feels slightly dated.

Taking place in New York City and presented by TriStar Pictures, Money Monster chronicles television personality, Lee Gates (Clooney). He anchors a show called well, "Money Monster". During one of Lee's live broadcasts, a poverty-ridden, disgruntled investor (Kyle Budwell) infiltrates the set and puts a gun to Lee's head (talk about a weak security detail). He wants answers and demands that the cameras keep rolling. He then puts an explosive belt (or vest) on Gates and tells him that if he lets go of the trigger, Gates will blow up along with everyone else in the building. You see Gates gave Budwell some bad investment tips a while ago. Budwell lost all his savings on the advice of a broadcast where Gates told his audience to put all their dough into IBIS stocks (it's a fictional company I guess). Watch for a couple of segments where the 55-year-old Clooney dances to some rap music at the beginning of his show (I gotta admit, it's pretty cringe-inducing). Also, look out for amusing references to YouTube and a screenplay (by three writers) littered with almost nothing but the F word.

In conclusion, you know that Food Network host that constantly says the approving phrase, "that's money" (in case you've been living in a cave, it's Guy Fieri). Well in terms of 2016's Money Monster, "money" it surely ain't. Rating: 2 stars.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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