Friday Night Dinners: Casting The Inevitable GameStop Movie

Almost immediately after it happened, it felt inevitable that the GameStop/WallStreetBets fiasco would be turned into a movie. I mean, it had it all: nerds vs. jocks, rich vs. poor, national scandal and intrigue, and the perfect blend of comedy and drama. Hell, since I began working on this piece, at least three films have been confirmed to be in the works, including a film by Brett Ratner (who is such an assh*le I have to imagine it’ll be from the hedge fund’s POV), a Jason Blum HBO project with Andrew Ross Sorkin (Billions) and a Netflix film by Hurt Locker writer Mark Boal and starring teen heartthrob Noah Centineo. But as studios continue scrambling to churn this project out and capitalize on the success of The Big Short and Parasite, I thought I’d offer my own insight. And so I step into the role of Dream Casting Director/Producer to put together the perfect ensemble for the Reddit/Wall Street debacle.

So before I begin putting this project together, a quick refresh of what happened, to the best of my (or anyone’s, really) ability. The long and short of it seems to be that it came out that a Wall Street hedge fund was trying to short GameStop as a means of capitalizing on their downfall during the recent pandemic – which is to say, bet on it to fail to earn an easy buck. WallStreetBets, a subsection of the social media news site Reddit dedicated to teaching novices about the stock market, noticed this and realized it was a good opportunity to invest in the company. They simultaneously advertised investing in other industries derided by Wall Street and suffering during the pandemic. Soon, efforts began to snowball to all corners of Reddit – socialist, capitalist, nerd, jock, and beyond – for a litany of reasons to invest in these companies, with everyone citing their own reasons. The socialists wanted to prove how broken the Wall Street model really is. Up-and-coming traders wanted to test out the market for the first time and turn an easy buck. And the nerdy gamers with a hard-on for ethics in gaming wanted to get revenge on a group of greedy dudebros out to make a quick buck at the cost of their favorite outlet.

Soon all the Redditors began shorting all the hedge fund’s shorts, in an effort to burn them to the ground. Their investments were small, and mostly joke-based: almost every investment was $69, $420, or $420.69. And they celebrated their actions with jokes “chicken tendies,” thinking their actions would have no consequence on the real world. But something funny happened. You see, all these deals were executed through the free brokerage app Robinhood, a mildly successful start-up that’s made waves in recent years. Robinhood is popular to first-time traders because it allows for free trading. But there’s a catch: the trade is free because Robinhood has a deal with Wall Street. Any deal made on the app is first reported to Wall Street, who’s given the chance to buy similar stocks first. So when hundreds of Redditors made moves on GameStop, Wall Street took notice and also began to buy stock, at a much higher amount. And as more people began jumping on this, the World’s Richest Man, Elon Musk, decided to encourage the rush on Wall Street, mainly out of revenge for his stock allegedly being undervalued. This drove the price of Wall Street stocks from a paltry $4 to $450, and effectively destroyed the hedge fund’s shorts. Actually, destroyed is the wrong word: the hedge fund’s losses grew to almost $14 billion, which surpassed the fund’s existence of $13 billion. Wall Street had to shut down and bail out the poor assh*les, and investigations on all sides were then launched by Congress, with everyone from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Ted Cruz speaking out on the mismanagement across the board.

Obviously, this story has everything. It’s got class warfare (very hot right now, look at Parasite, Hustlers, and The White Tiger). It’s got political intrigue. It’s got a comedic angle (one could easily frame this as Revenge of the Nerds). And it’ll make dumb people feel smart. I love that in a movie, as a dumb person who loves to feel smart. I need this movie greenlit now. I just have one request before I get casting: if you’re going to make this movie right, you need a millennial’s intuition. Keep Aaron Sorkin’s grubby-ass hands off of it, and it’ll be a cold day in hell before I let Adam McKay ruin this story with his pretentious, condescending bullsh*t. I’m thinking Kitty Green comes on board to direct – her The Assistant is a thrilling masterpiece, along the lines for what I’m looking for. And the script needs to be written by someone who gets Wall Street, but also knows how to have fun. My first choice is Succession’s Jesse Armstrong, who can tackle business, politics, comedy, and more in a deft, two-hour screenplay, although I’d also let J.C. Chandor take a crack at it – it’s worth remembering that his Margin Call absolutely holds up. There, now that we’ve got that established, let’s get down to business and begin rounding out this cast. I’ll put out some feelers to the agents and see who we can get for the leads, the Redditors, the hedge fund assh*les, and the rest.

The Leads

Ok, if we’re gonna make this film work, we need at least one big name in the main cast, and can go with fun picks for the rest. The way I see it, there are three central figures in this story, so we need at least one big name and two generally well-known names. Obviously the star here is gonna be Jaime Rogozinski, the founder of WallStreetBets who put this all in motion. Rogozinski has a weird, Edward Snowden-like face where you know you should like this dude, but he’s also definitely an assh*le. Obviously, there’s no one for this role other than Jake Gyllenhaal. Like, gonzo Jake Gyllenhaal. The Jake Gyllenhaal we got in Okja and John Mulaney and the Sack Lunch Bunch. It’ll be his finest hour, his Social Network, and I’ll get my bonus for the inevitable awards train.

Now that we’ve got our A-lister, we can get a little crazy with it. Which is probably a good thing, because up next we have the YouTuber who uncovered the shorts and hypothesized the boom, named DeepF*ckingValue, because of course he is. I have a lot of mixed thoughts on DeepF*ckingValue, because his work was revolutionary, and deserves credit for causing a massive economic shift. But there’s also something shady about him, the way there is with most YouTube financial pundits. So we need someone who looks like he would be smart enough to be a YouTuber, but also douchey enough to be a YouTuber. I got it: Ben Schwartz. Tell me you don’t want Ya Boi Jean Ralphio popping up periodically to shout stock information. It’ll be this movie’s Margot Robbie In A Bubble Bath. And finally, we need Chamath Palihapitiya, the former FaceBook investor who was so dedicated to watching Wall Street burn that he invested his own money into GameStop just to speed up the process. For our third lead, I’m thinking a comedian-turned-actor, sort of like how Timberlake showed his dramatic flare for the first time as Sean Parker. It also has to be someone capable of portraying smart and confident alongside his dickish bravado. Someone like Hasan Minhaj. After all, he is the true heir apparent to Jon Stewart, has that young, suave, smart thing down pat, and he’s done it before in this great Daily Show segment from back in 2016. Get Minhaj onboard, second billing.

The Redditors

Up next, we have the Redditors. The Redditors need to consist of a wide range of performers, including activists, gamers, and wannabe traders, but above all they need to accomplish one goal: they need to look like they spend way too much time on the computer. They also need to fit the role of heroic monikers like “Thicc Dads Club” and “StonksFlyingUp.” I’m thinking for the wannabe-traders, we need two schlubby, nerdy 40-somethings who look like they never accomplished anything in life. Luckily, I have two in mind: Mark Duplass and Stephen Merchant. Duplass has the schlubby loser energy that made him great in mumblecore and The League (he could also double as a gamer). Meanwhile, Merchant’s awkward, nerdy energy has made him a star in The Office, Jojo Rabbit, and Modern Family cameos, and I think he’d be hilarious as a Reddit commenter who suddenly discovers he’s struck it rich.

As for the socialists, we need someone who screams Basement Activist, and who’s given us gravitas while simultaneously hitting his funny cues. After all, he’s the one who’s going to deliver the Big Monologue at the end, Steve Carell in The Big Short-style. So I’m thinking we get Pete Davidson before he makes, like, a war movie and becomes a bonafide dramatic actor. He’s got that twitchy, likable-douchebag energy that can be make-or-break for a part like this. And then there’s the gamers. I have not decided if we want the gamers to be likable or not. That’s for Armstrong or Chandor to decide. After all, these bros were likely harassing women just a few years ago over “ethics in gaming journalism.” What I can tell you is that we need someone who can capture nerdy energy, like Thomas Middleditch. But I also want some innocent-looking young nerd who we can follow and grow with as he’s harassed by lawsuits, receives death threats from Wall Street brokers, yet gallantly perseveres for the sake of his craft. And because I love giving unknowns a chance to shine, I want Noah Robbins, who had cameos in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, The Assistant, and The Trial of the Chicago 7 in the role. I mean, look at that picture. Look at it long and hard. Tell me he doesn’t look like he spends all his time on Reddit. He’s the perfect hero for a piece like this. But let’s be honest: no one’s seeing this film for the heroes. We want to root for Wall Street to fail. Let’s get to our villains.

The Hedge Fund

I’m a simple man of simple tastes. I want my Wall Street brokers to have awful, punchable faces, to utter douchey phrases about stock prices and their Porsche, and I want to enjoy it when they feel sad. So I’m assembling a Dream Team Of Hateable Actors. The actors themselves don’t have to be unlikeable – on the contrary, I hear most of these performers are delightful. They just have to play the douchebag quite well. And in the role of their leader, I want the greatest greasy pseudo-gangster we can find: Bobby Cannavale. Cannavale is a damn delight in anything he does, mainly because he always pushes the rich douchebag model to its breaking point without becoming outright awful. He just seems like he’d run a hedge fund determined to short a group of struggling businesses to make a quick buck off the pandemic, only to panic when it backfires on him. I want to watch him suffer, and I want him to chew scenery (and potentially curse out a meek intern while he’s at it) while doing so.

As for the rest of the hedge fund brokers, we need people like New Girl’s Schmidt. That’s why I want Max Greenfield (who’s played douchey in Big Short and Promising Young Woman) to play a member of the team – maybe even the one who proposes the trade. In fact, throw in Lamorne Morris while we’re at it – it’d be a fun reunion, and I always felt like Morris had a great tw*t underneath Winston’s demeanor. I know Danny Strong mostly focuses on writing average films about modern history now, but man, back in his heyday, he made such a perfect insufferable prick. I would love to see him get back to those days with a small part amongst the hedge fund. And of course, to make this a truly “international” group of assh*les, we need Chris O’Dowd, who so smoothly can find the balance between douchey and romantic lead in weird, weird ways. Maybe he could be the hedge fund member who sort of regrets their actions, or blows the whistle on the whole thing. Who knows! I’m not the writer, I’m just here to give you million dollar ideas.

The Supporting Players

Of course this story goes well beyond the haves and have-nots. Every billionaire dumbass you can think of managed to somehow get involved in these shenanigans – some on the side of good, some on the side of bad, and some just very much wanted to be excluded from the narrative. But let’s start with the biggest name involved here: Elon Musk. The world’s supposedly-richest man found the whole concept so funny, and so desperately wanted to f*ck over the Wall Streeters he felt undervalued his (overvalued) company was one of the greatest forces driving the Wall Street coup, egging on the chaos to come. To portray Musk, we need an actor whose very essence makes us want to punch them in the face, the way Jesse Eisenberg made us want to punch Zuckerberg. For a role like this, you gotta go with Billy Magnussen. Magnussen has made a name for himself over half a decade playing punchable, hateable douchebags, and I think he can bring a real charm, humor, and pathos to the role of Musk. Similarly, I want Albert Brooks in the role of Jerry Spreecher, the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange. He just has that sleazy energy that’s needed for that pile of excrement. Oh, and speaking of antiheroes and villains, I want Christian Bale to reprise his Oscar-nominated role as Michael Burry, once an Aspergers-afflicted genius that predicted an economic downfall, now portrayed as a Very-Online Idiot corrupted by his own fame (he actually got rich during the GameStop rush and then called for regulations against the Redditors – what a dick).

It’d also be great to see the very-normal CEOs somehow embroiled in this scandal, much to their own confusion and chagrin. For example, GameStop CEO George Sherman. Sherman was just one man trying to keep his business from going under, and suddenly he’s part of the Fortune 500. We need an actor who can play tragic and comical at the same time. And I for one want to see Richard Jenkins in the role. We’ve seen him play serious (The Visitor, The Shape of Water) and we’ve seen him play comedic (Step Brothers). And I’m convinced that Jenkins would be hilariously baffled as the CEO. And then there’s my greatest piece of casting advice in this film has to be the role of Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev. Tenev was a wide-eyed optimist who just wanted to give people a chance to buy stocks, and instead he was forced into an unwinnable position: side with the buyers, and get turned on by Wall Street and go bankrupt. Side with Wall Street, and commit an SEC violation and risk jail time. We need someone who can capture innocence, but also make us root for bad things to happen to them. That’s why I’m going with Cousin Greg himself, Nicholas Braun. Braun has become a celebrity in recent years by playing the family patsy in Succession, and I think he can bring that same talent and style to Vlad Tenev. Plus, look at their pictures below. That’s dream casting right there.

Congress

Every big conspiracy thriller-esque movie has one Representative to show up and demand answers. Right now, that’s Ocasio-Cortez (and Ted Cruz, but then the movie would have to go into all that talk of expulsion and the insurrection and the “fleeing his state in the middle of a crisis” he’s been trying to distract from, and while it’d make for an interesting subplot, that’s not the fun stuff that this movie’s about, man). And I’m gonna strike while the iron’s hot. Internet star Rachel Zegler is about to star in the West Side Story remake and the upcoming Shazam sequel. After that, she’s gonna get offered so many parts. She’s already done an AOC impression/Halloween costume on her channel. I think we gotta make her this offer now, before we lose out to Lin-Manuel Miranda directing Heathers or whatever. She can partner with Maxine Waters, who recently and brilliantly eviscerated everyone in her path during the Congressional hearing on the subject. Let’s not overthink Waters: Viola Davis is right there. Let her chew through scenery.

More importantly, of course, is the role of Marjorie Taylor-Greene. Look, Marjorie Taylor-Greene really doesn’t fit into this story. I’m not sure she’s actually weighed in on the subject. But can we talk for a second about the fact that a sitting U.S. Representative has not only openly supported QAnon, and posted videos of herself harassing children even before they became quasi-activists, but also made news for declaring her belief that California wildfires were caused by Jewish Space Lasers? I don’t care if it’s relevant, that’s going in the movie. And I want Gwyneth Paltrow to play the role, both because she’d be good at playing a blonde lady with strange beliefs, but because it would have a layer of irony, like Debra Messing playing the DNC Chairwoman with a lack of self-awareness in Irresistible.

And finally…

The SEC Agents And Lawyers

Obviously, the film’s gonna need some drama – drama in the form of two handsome SEC Agents who show up to harass and hound the Redditors for daring to change the game. And while they may be a bit too famous for the part, we gotta shoot our shot here. I want Jon Hamm and Kyle Chandler. They just look like the square authority figures that would harass the nerds and beatniks who dared to pull off a daring heist. It’s also a tip of the hat to Richard Jewell (a very bad movie) and The Wolf of Wall Street (a very good movie). Let these handsome dudes show up to lightly threaten our poor twink heroes with expressions like “You’re lookin’ at hard time, boys. Hope it was worth all the Internet hijinks.” Or something like that. Look, I don’t write for Succession, that’s what I’m paying Armstrong for. Maybe they’ll throw in a “f*ck off” or two. Who knows. Either way, let’s spring for the cameos, it’ll be fun. If they say no, we can always reallocate the funds to a final montage set to the New Radicals’ “You Get What You Give.” You know it’s gonna happen. As for the lawyers, we want actors who can play high-powered and smart, yet also frazzled and stuffy. I demand nothing less than Bill Camp, Corey Stoll, and Elizabeth Marvel. They can work for whatever team you want. They just have to be in the mix.

So that’s my pitch for the eventual GameStop movie. I’m predicting an Oscar nomination for Jake Gyllenhaal as Best Actor, and Supporting nods for Noah Robbins and Bobby Cannavale. Christian Bale will probably also earn a nomination, because of course. Billy Magnussen will win the Golden Globe in a shocking upset. Rachel Zegler will have major buzz all season, but all the rich Hollywood elites would never support a Democratic Socialist, not even in a movie part, so she’ll stunningly miss out on nomination morning. But of course, this is only my opinion. I have not yet been hired as a big Hollywood casting agent. So we’ll see what happens down the road. All I know is that this whole scenario is f*cking hilarious, a little big infuriating, and the movies that are inevitably made on the subject won’t even come close to doing it justice.

2 Comments

  • Justin Burgess Posted 02/27/2021 9:16 pm

    Wardell needs to be a redditor

    • Travis Burgess Posted 04/08/2021 4:44 pm

      This is an egregious miss on my part, you are correct

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