Saturday movie review: Money Monster

When soggy skies dampened plans for my husband and me to go on a bike ride over Memorial Day weekend, we resorted to Plan B and headed to the movie theater for a matinee. Though we knew next to nothing about the plot line of MONEY MONSTER, we figured anything starring Julia Roberts and George Clooney and directed by Jodie Foster had to be good.

money monster poster 

It didn't take long for me to realize the plot of MONEY MONSTER was far from what I imagined. I thought for sure there'd be some sort of romantic leanings between the stars. I was quite grateful, though, to find out that wasn't the case at all. Instead, Clooney and Roberts are coworkers... without a smidgen of lust and longing between the two. Shew... For some reason the idea of those two powerhouses smooching it up is a storyline I simply couldn't stomach.

Anyway, MONEY MONSTER is jampacked with tension. A thriller of sorts in which George Clooney plays Lee Gates, an obnoxious television host who prances and preens, a dolt to a ridiculous degree, a know-it-all who shares money advice — stock market stuff and such — with an adoring audience. Julia Roberts is Patty Fenn, his producer who has grown tired of narcissistic numskull Gates and plans to soon depart the program for a less stomach turning (and moral mangling) position. Which she hasn't told Gates.

The film opens with Gates preparing for a show — which is televised live. Soon into the program, things go awry when Kyle (Jack O'Connell, lead in UNBROKEN) a rambling, distraught stranger  sneaks onto the set and takes over the program as well as Gates. Turns out a stock tip from Gates gone bad blew apart his world, and he's now ready to blow apart Gates and the company bigwig he holds responsible for ruining his life.

Naturally, things get a wee bit suspenseful and scary as big-mouth Gates has explosives strapped to his chest and his life lies in the hands of someone who has nothing to lose.


Clooney and Roberts are obviously superstars. But I found O'Connell's performance the most impressive of those with top billing. He perfectly played someone unhinged, on the edge, seemingly wacko but as his story plays out, he's obviously not a bad man just someone in a bad situation... who may have gone too far in trying to remedy the wrongs done him.

Clooney as Gates seemed too realistically smarmy and full of himself. His character actually turned my stomach. Which could be the sign of a bravo performance but for me, it just made me squirm and not care much for Clooney. Or Gates... at all.

Julia Roberts' role didn't seem to require much of a stretch. She played calm, cool, and confident under pressure, talking Gates through the incident while ensuring the show goes on. No big reason to bash her performance yet nothing that would lead me to consider it stellar.

Supporting cast include Dominic West as the schmuck responsible for the stock disaster and Caitrona Balfe as the PR person stuck trying to make sense of and acceptable apologies for the mess her company created that may leave Gates and others blown to bits.

MONEY MONSTER did keep me guessing at what might happen. Jodie Foster did a great job in keeping the tension high, though it was far from the steady, unnerving tension David Fincher forged in PANIC ROOM, which starred Foster.

Though not at the top of my list of fave movies of the year so far, MONEY MONSTER entertained me when my top choice for afternoon entertainment proved impossible. 

In interview with O'Connell and Foster — with an interviewer who feels just as I do: that O'Connell outshined his superstar costars:

MONEY MONSTER (rated R "for language throughout, some sexuality and brief violence) opened in theaters nationwide May 13, 2016.