Friday, October 1, 2010

Wall Street 2: Thoughts from an ex-Wall Streeter

By: Finance Foodie

The other night, I attended a private screening for new movie Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps. This was no ordinary premiere party though; this was a screening with 100 or so of the best and brightest finance/investments/banking types in Boston, complete with open bar and concession stand. That’s right – all the Sour Patch Kids and Pinot Grigio you can eat and drink. Welcome to the good life baby.

A bit of background: Wall Street 2 is a sequel to the cult classic Wall Street, where we were first introduced to Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas), the cool as ice suspender wearing corporate raider that became the symbol of excess and greed in the 1980s Wall Street. Wall Street 2 opens in 2001 with Gekko being released from jail, after almost a decade of imprisonment for insider trading. With his crumpled suit and Zach Morris sized cell phone in hand, Gekko sees that no one has come for him upon his release. As Gekko stands alone among the reunited families of the other freed prisoners, perhaps this is suppose to make us wonder, “Is greed really good?”

The movie then fast forwards seven years, and we are introduced to junior trader Jake Moore (Shia LaBeouf) and his girlfriend (Carey Mulligan) sharing ermm…a tender moment in his pimped out multi-million dollar loft in Manhattan. Ok, so I know movies are supposed to take the “glam factor” up a notch, but there is no way in H-E-double hockey sticks did I believe Jake could own a pad this ill at such a young age. When I was a junior banker in NYC not so long ago, I lived in a rented 900 sq foot apartment with 2 other roommates. In fact, I didn’t even have a real room – for I was residing in the living room boarded up with a fake wall. Now before you Midwesterners with your wide-open land start gasping in horror, fake walls are actually fairly common in NYC, and the quality of the walls are superb (most come with working doors too!). Jake’s character would have been far more relatable/believable if he were living in more plebian digs ala Harold and Kumar style.
Not what my NYC apartment looked like...
Without spoiling too much of the film (or being too much of a film critic – of which I’m not), the next two hours are spend chronicling the economic meltdown of 2008. As the NY Observer so cleverly pointed out, this is a movie only a hedge fund manager could love. With all the finance jargon and abbreviations thrown around (CDO this, ABS that, bids, spreads, etc), the non-finance types might as well tune out the dialog and enjoy the natty attire of the attractive cast. Which, by the way, is exactly what my medical student friend that I dragged along to the screening did (but hey, at least she enjoyed the popcorn).
The last quarter of the movie was probably the worst, as it dragged on and really is too boring to write about. The rest of the audience probably felt the same, as the air of an antsy financier can be felt a mile away (so imagine if you were sitting next to one). As the credits (finally) rolled, the mumbles became louder and the sound of shattering glass more frequent as the audience exited the theatre (I’m sure after 2 hours of sitting and drinking non-stop, one becomes intoxicated).

So Wall Street 2 was a disappointing follow-up, but how can you even began to compete with the iconic original? Here to hoping that Mr. Stone nips it in the bud with this sequel and let the classic stay a classic.

[Photos: 20th Century Fox]


Ken said...

The apartment that Shia lived in: 6250 sq ft, 4-bed, 5-bath penthouse in Chelsea. Selling price: $12-15M. Haha, no way the trader could pull that off especially if he was surprised at getting a $1.5M paycheck.

Sweet place though!

Finance Foodie said...

He must of LEVERAGED up...

ugh me and my bad finance jokes!

Unknown said...

agreed. I am one of those non finance people you speak of and I had trouble following the dialog. So I just sat back and watched Josh Brolin. yum!

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