Saw “The Big Short” last night. It obviously took liberties with both the book and reality in certain respects, but having lived through and read much about the collapse of the economy in 2008, I can say it hewed close enough to reality that it was OK. And they get points for making something that could’ve been super dry and ultra-serious into an entertaining and at times funny movie.

Bonus: there is probably nothing more 21st Century America than a movie in which the protagonists uncover wrongdoing and recklessness and decide to take a stand by … doing everything they can to profit off of it and, really, nothing else.

Maybe it would’ve been better if they went full-nihilist with it, but they inserted one scene that put the rest of the nihilism in high-relief.

It was short. The two young investor characters are leaving Las Vegas with Brad Pitt’s character after learning that, yes, the housing market is being run by morons and, yes, they stand to make a LOT of money off of it when it all comes crashing down. They’re sort of dancing and celebrating how much money they’re gonna make. Pitt stops them and lectures them not to celebrate because don’t they realize that what they’re rooting for is for people to become homeless and lose their jobs and that every 1% the unemployment rate goes up, 40,000 people die, etc. etc. They’re chastened. For, like, five seconds. Then the movie returns to making us root for the guys shorting the market and making us hate the people who won’t let them short the market fairly.

My guess is that that was the ONE scene Michael Lewis sort of demanded be in there. I suspect here that Pitt is sort of the Lewis stand-in, even if he’s based on a real character. This is the one time in the entire movie that it is suggested that, maybe, ALL of these people are pieces of shit.

Craig Calcaterra

Craig is the author of the daily baseball (and other things) newsletter, Cup of Coffee. He writes about other things at He lives in New Albany, Ohio with his wife, two kids, and many cats.

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