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Boiler Room
2000 - R - 110 Mins.
Director: Ben Younger
Producer: Jennifer Todd, Suzanne Todd
Written By: Ben Younger
Starring: Giovanni Ribisi, Vin Diesel, Ben Affleck, Jamie Kennedy, Scott Caan
Review by: David Trier
   
The previews sold this as a Ben Affleck movie and had I not snuck in to see it for free after attending a previous movie, I never would have taken the chance. Interestingly enough, he is only in three scenes and they don't particularly contribute to the film. It never ceases to amaze me what distributors think will draw an audience.

Giovani Ribisi runs an underground casino in New York and is making some decent cash without paying any societal debts. When he meets a gambling stock broker one night he gets turned on to the idea of making real money. His father (Ron Rifkin) is a judge, both literally and figuratively, and Giovani also has thoughts of finally doing good by him. As he goes through the gruesome Wall Street training, he becomes a new man, falls in love, and becomes acclimated into a high energy world of power. But don't ask too many questions, kid. When it turns out to be a scam (they're selling stock in companies that don't exist) and the law comes down on him, he's forced to do a few painful things: give up everything he's worked for, rat out the company, protect his father's image as a judge, make up for having ruined a client's life, and ultimately (the hardest one) make amends with his father.

On the outside, this is a very tense film that borrows heavily from Wall Street, Glengarry Glen Ross, Swimming With Sharks, and any other movie about naive white guys that try to get ahead and end up way in over it. But the stock market is just the vehicle for the real story. What can be done about an unimpressable father? Is it enough to have a good job? Does he ever have to understand why you felt unappreciated? Under the shadow of what might be considered a Gen X suspense flick is a deeply moving father and son drama. It is so easy to abuse this theme with sappy dialogue, bad acting, and poor direction, but here Boiler Room maintains integrity throughout. It is only in the stock market part of the story that some integrity is lost. It isn't clear how anybody could get away with such an obvious hoax and a lot of time is wasted trying to explain it. But in the end I still didn't understand it (which could just mean I'm not very bright).

Giovani Ribisi is one of the best young actors in this sad time of lousy bad actors. Although he occasionally falls into a trap of looking mentally ill when he's upset, he's an excellent listener, a patient speaker, and a simple yet sensitive performer. Ron Rifkin is perfect as the cold, distant father, and is able to express complex emotion behind a mask of insensitivity. There are notable performances by Vin Diesel (Pitch Black) and Nicky Katt. Ben Affleck tries to be Alec Baldwin from Glen Gary Glenross but just isn't very convincing. That's ok, it's only a few minutes of screen time. Taylor Nichols plays the "example," a man who's sweet-talked into investing his life savings and gets completely screwed. His performance is stunning and honest. The movie is extraordinarily well written and directed by first-timer Ben Younger. From the opening moments you feel pulled into the story. The father-son drama carries you through to the end, but the stock market suspense thriller has some plot and pacing problems in the second half. Some of the writing is a little cocky, making comments about the financial world that are a bit misinformed. Suggesting that Microsoft gives its secretaries stock options, for example. Sounds nice, isn't true. The soundtrack is made up almost entirely of good hip hop. Hearing De La Soul and watching shots of New York City together always makes me teary-eyed.
 
Movie Guru Rating
An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater.
  4 out of 5 stars

 
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