Sunday, June 29, 2014

"Overlooked Film of the Week" "Boiler Room" (2000)

Overlooked Film of the Week-#63

Boiler Room

“ I read this article a while back, that said that Microsoft employs more millionaire secretary's that any other company in the world. They took stock options over Christmas bonuses. It was a good move. I remember there was this picture, of one of the groundskeepers next to his Ferrari. Blew my mind. you see shit like that, and it just plants seeds, makes you think its possible, even easy. And then you turn on the TV, and there's just more of it. The $87 Million lottery winner, that kid actor that just made 20 million o his last movie, that internet stock that shot through the roof, you could have made millions if you had just gotten in early, and that's exactly what I wanted to do: get in. I didn't want to be an innovator any more, I just wanted to make the quick and easy buck, I just wanted in. The Notorious BIG said it best: "Either you're slingin' crack-rock, or you've got a wicked jump-shot." Nobody wants to work for it anymore. There's no honor in taking that after school job at Mickey Dee's, honor's in the dollar, kid. So I went the white boy way of slinging crack-rock: I became a stock broker.

This quote by Seth Davis (Giovanni Ribisi) opens “Boiler Room” in wicked style. Especially as we are watching Davis in a big bus, being followed by three or so more big buses. The buses stop at a luxurious hotel as several men in suits come piling out, leaving all of their manors on the buses. There is a big celebration going on for the Stock Company J.T. Marlin. I think the quote above pretty much delivers exactly what you are in for while watching the upcoming hours of “Boiler Room.” This is a movie about a guy who so desperately wanted to get rich, in the quickest way possible. That need to make bags of money lead to less moral thinking and more greed.  Two words could sum up “Boiler Room” in a nutshell, desperation and greed.

After the crazy opening, we go back in time a little bit. We reconnect with Seth and see that while he was in college, more like drifting through college, he was running an illegal casino out of his college house. He was making good money, but that did not make his business any less legal. It was especially risky since his father (Ron Rifkin) is a prestigious judge. When an old friend Greg (Nicky Katt) visits Seth’s casino, even he has his hesitations about what Seth is doing, so he invites him to interview at his stock firm called J.T. Marlin. In an act to impress his father, he accepts Greg’s offer, and before he knows it, he is off to become a stock broker at J.T. Marlin. While he rises fast, he slowly but surely discovers that J.T. Marlin is not a legitimate firm, but a pump-and-dump scheme that is highly organized.

I know what you are thinking, this sounds almost exactly like “Wall Street” from 1987 which starred Charlie Sheen and Michael Douglas. Yes, both films are quite similar, and I particularly love the scene where Seth is invited to work party and finds all of his co-workers not only watching “Wall Street,” but taking turns quoting the movie. It is obvious that “Wall Street” was a huge influence on the making of “Boiler Room,” but both films are quite different too. “Wall Street” does a good job of plunging the audience into the world of stock broker’s firms. Even though Michael Douglas’ character happens to be corrupt, it is still a detailed look at that particular world. “Boiler Room” is about a guy who wants money bad, and on his journey to riches, he gets in over his head.

The cast is impeccably amazing; there are no two ways about it. Besides Ribisi and Rifkin, the filled with the most top-knotch, young supporting actors of the era. It is a cast that includes Vin Diesel, Scott Caan, Jamie Kennedy, and Nia Long. It is wonderful cast and they all bring their A-game to this production. Then there is Ben Affleck, yes Ben Affleck is in this movie and he totally kills it. He only has a few scenes in the movie, but he steals the show in his small group of scenes. Take a look for yourself:


See what I mean? Anybody who has any doubt about Ben Affleck as Batman can shut up now. I know Affleck has disappointed in the past, but when he really clicks with material, the result is engrossing. Such is the case with “Boiler Room.”

I think this is the best Ribisi performance of his career. I have loved Ribisi in everything I have ever seen him in, from supporting to lead character. But I have to confess that nothing in his career comes close to the energy he possesses as Seth Davis. I was impressed that he could be funny, sincere, sweet, desperate, angry and chill all at once, treating his transitions with genuine ease. Consider a scene where he is absurdly called on a day off by one of those petty Telemarketers, trying to sell him something. I love how he tells the Telemarketer exactly what he is doing wrong and gets him to pitch his idea again. It’s a great scene and I never knew Ribisi had so much command on screen. This portrayal was a diamond in the rough in an otherwise impressive filmography. It was lightning in the bottle for Ribisi and it is one of the many highlights of the movie.

“Boiler Room” is slick and thrilling, and I think you’ll like what you see.

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