Spoiler alert! The following post contains major details about the plot and ending of “Dumb Money” (in theaters now). Stop reading if you haven’t seen it and don’t want to know.
If you thought “Dumb Money” was insane, wait until you hear what really happened.
The irreverent finance comedy follows Keith Gill (Paul Dano), a real-life Reddit user who helped lead a surge in GameStop stock in early 2021. The film tells an unlikely David vs. Goliath story, following a grassroots movement by everyday people to take down Wall Street titans who were trying to turn a profit on the company’s demise.
“Quite simply, the hedge funds were betting the stock would go down,” says director Craig Gillespie. “The Reddit users figured out if they all rallied together, they could pump the stock up. Not only would they get to make a lot of money, but they could also really stick it to hedge funds, who would actually lose money.”.
The film is co-written by Rebecca Angelo and Lauren Schuker Blum, who adapted it from Ben Mezrich’s 2021 book “The Antisocial Network.” They break down what’s real and what’s not in the movie.
‘Dumb Money’ review:You won’t find a more crowd-pleasing movie about rising stock prices.
Did Keith Gill actually dunk chicken tenders in champagne?
Gill, who posted under the username Roaring Kitty, communicated with his followers through YouTube livestreams, in which he’d break down his personal stock strategies and share spreadsheets of GameStop’s performance. He became known for his signature red headband and cat T-shirts, and for dunking chicken tenders in a glass of champagne to celebrate financial wins.
“We always joke that the closest thing to a superhero cape in our movie is Keith’s red headband,” Blum says.
“And, yes, he dipped chicken in champagne,” Angelo adds. “A lot of what Keith says (in the film) is verbatim from his livestreams.” Gill wasn’t involved in the movie’s making, but “he’s such a singular, funny, great guy that we tried to make up as little as possible. Obviously, we didn’t have access to private conversations he had with his family. So we relied very heavily on social media postings and whatever we could get our hands on.”.
Did Keith Gill really say ‘I am not a cat’ during his testimony to Congress?
Toward the end of “Dumb Money,” Gill testifies before the House Committee on Financial Services, explaining that he never charged for his financial advice, nor “used social media to promote GameStop stock to unwitting investors.” He delivered his remarks via Zoom in February 2021 and began by telling lawmakers that “I am not a cat” (an apparent reference to the popular “Zoom Cat Lawyer” meme).
“That’s so him,” Blum says. “He really has his beliefs and doesn’t waver from them, no matter how high the pressure gets and how intense things become.”.
“We were blown away by his composure and his clarity during that congressional testimony,” Angelo says. “Can you imagine how scary it would be to face off against those guys? We watched the entirety of the six-hour (hearing) and chose very particular moments to highlight, which was fun.”.
Is America Ferrera’s ‘Dumb Money’ character, Jenny Campbell, a real person?
The film follows a small group of GameStop investors including Jenny Campbell (Ferrera), a single mom who’s heavily in debt and religiously watches Gill’s livestreams. Despite an end-credits title card that says Jenny is still holding onto her GameStop shares, the fictional character is actually an amalgam of a few different people.
“She’s mostly based on a woman (in the book) called Harmony, although there’s a little bit more of a composite going on,” Gillespie says. “We tried to represent different groups within the trading community, and she was part of this group that fiercely felt marginalized by the disparity of wealth that’s going on in the country.”.
Did Steve Cohen really have a pet pig?
One of the ostensible villains of “Dumb Money” is Steve Cohen (Vincent D’Onofrio), a multibillionaire and mentor to Gabe Plotkin (Seth Rogen), who made a short bet against GameStop that backfired. Throughout the film, Cohen is followed around his house by a massive pet pig – a bizarre true fact that was too good not to include.
“Steve Cohen had a pig that lived in the family home for 10 years,” Gillespie says. While researching the project, Gillespie found an article about the family pet on Google and thought, “That’s a pretty interesting backdrop to have: (a pig) walking through this mansion.”.
Did Pete Davidson’s character, Kevin Gill, actually run naked?
“Dumb Money” offers glimpses into Gill’s family life: sparring with his less successful brother, Kevin (Pete Davidson), and grieving for their late sister. The film ends with a heartwarming scene of the siblings stripping down and running around a track – a metaphor of sorts for bravery and new beginnings that’s inspired by real life.
“We found an old archived article about Kevin running naked in a lightning storm,” Blum says. “We thought it was hilarious, but it also became a fitting third-act metaphor.”.
“Plus, we got naked Pete Davidson and Paul Dano,” Angelo jokes. “It’s all character-driven nudity.”.
How much is Keith Gill worth now?
Gill last posted publicly online in early 2021. According to the film, he was worth $34 million at that time, although it’s unclear whether he’s held onto his GameStop shares or what his net worth is now.
“He completely retreated from the public eye, so it’s all speculation at this point,” Gillespie says.
As for Gill’s feelings about the movie, the filmmakers have no idea. “We reached out several times along the way – during production and after production – but ultimately got no response.”.