It has been quite some time since I have hated as much of a movie as this one and still can’t help but recommend it. Honestly, I am actually placing it near the bottom of my list of the best films of the year, because it is so damn good at what it does. The problem is that what it does is down right infuriating most of the time. Which is why, despite placing this movie in the best films of the year, I recommend you wait to watch it at home.
The gist of the narrative is that Adam Sandler (in his best performance in a decade) is a diamond jeweler named Howard Ratner. Howard is the poster boy for modern capitalism. He buys a rare gem, that Africans are dying over, at 10% of what he plans to sell it for. The problem is, Kevin Garnett (yes, the famous basketball player) wants to use the gem for good luck. This leads Howard down one rabbit hole.
The other problems he has are gambling, selling off items that don’t belong to him in order to use the money on another risky proposition, borrowing from family, borrowing from gangsters, and every time he gets ahead he doubles down to try making even more. Oh, and he neglects his kids to spend time with the girl he’s cheating on his wife with. It would be easy just to say that Howard is a piece of shit, but he is meant to be an example of an epidemic that plagues this country, and that is the greed built into capitalism.
The entire idea of stepping on the competition, taking life threatening risks, screwing over those less fortunate, and lying until you are blue in the face, are the most prevalent examples of modern capitalism. Now, it can be argued that capitalism was intended to give more people a path to prosperity, and I personally believe that mixing capitalism with the right amount social programs is the best system we have today. However, this movie clearly lays out the dangers of modern capitalism, and my personal experience in running businesses for nearly a decade help me to confirm the example this film lays out.
The problem is, this movie is the ‘Requiem for a Dream’ of capitalism. By that, I mean it is an absolutely infuriating experience that invites you to reluctantly root for characters that are examples of a stain on society. Which means that it is a tragedy and it’s a vividly real tragedy of American capitalism. Which is an important story to tell. It’s also a completely miserable experience and in a way that’s not sad, but actually makes you want to break the projector. So, if you want to see this film I think it’s an important watch. I just think you should probably do it where you can pause the thing when it pisses you off.