Review: Money Monster, C-
Rated R, 98 minutes
On paper, the sluggish new drama "Money Monster" seems like a sure thing: a terrific cast, including A-listers George Clooney and Julia Roberts, an Oscar-winning actress directing and a relevant premise. However, as we know in the financial world, there are no sure things, and in spite of chemistry from its leads, "Money Monster" is an uneven and unfocused portrait of greed and corruption. Financial TV personality Lee Gates (Clooney), who offers up stock advice on his hit show "Money Monster", is held hostage by a viewer, Kyle Budwell ("Unbroken's" Jack O'Connell), who lost all of his money, following a bad tip from Lee during his show. Gates and his show director (Roberts) must navigate a dangerous situation and figure out how it all went wrong. Directed by Oscar-winner Jodie Foster and co-written by Alan Di Fore, Jim Kouf and Jamie Linden, "Money Monster" is a preachy misfire, lacking dramatic heft and any sort of pertinent realism (how could a guy could just wander on to a TV show like this) in which Roberts spouts inane, obvious things like "We need real answers!" This can be pinpointed to the uneven, didactic script and Foster's muffled direction; while Foster is a real talent in front of the camera, she's relatively untested behind it, lacking a central power and complexity something like this needs. Fortunately, she has Clooney as a Jim Cramer-like financial guru and Roberts as his smart director to help guide her along, and while they bring a sense of ease to the story, it falters under a misguided humor that hurts the plot. The leads aren't the only ones wasted here: O'Connell is miscast as the angry stockholder, and "Breaking Bad's" Giancarlo Esposito and the lovely Caitriona Balfe of "Outlander" are also terribly misused in supporting roles. "Money Monster" nearly falls apart in the last act when it leaves the studio, with a highly preposterous climax in which Roberts and her staff figure it all out in lightening speed as Clooney has a showdown with a corrupt CEO (Dominic West). If you need a hot tip, here's one: avoid the lackluster, disappointing "Money Monster," which is a waste of your time and hard-earned money.