DUMB MONEY*CUT TO THE CHASE*
NOTE: This spoiler was submitted by Jeremy
January 25, 2021 – Gabe Plotkin (Seth Rogen), founder of hedge fund Melvin Capital, is panicking while on the phone with Steve Cohen (Vincent D’Onofrio), fellow hedge fund manager of Point72. Shares for GameStop stocks (GME) are soaring, and many others across the country are taking notice. Another hedge fund manager, Ken Griffin (Nick Offerman) of Citadel LLC, is also getting in on the conversation. At the center of it all, the managers find a YouTuber named Keith Gill (Paul Dano).
Six months earlier, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, Keith is seen living in Boston with his wife Caroline (Shailene Woodley) and their infant daughter. Keith gets a beer with a friend and tells him that he bought $53,000 in shares for GameStop, which baffles the friend. He also operates a YouTube channel and Reddit account under the names “RoaringKitty” or “DeepFuckingValue”, and he contributes to the subreddit r/WallStreetBets. Keith addresses his followers with investment advice and tells them that GameStop is what people should be looking into.
Among Keith’s followers include Jenny Campbell (America Ferrera), a nurse and single mother in Pittsburgh who takes Keith’s advice in the hopes that she can earn enough to support herself and her sons. There is also Marcos Garcia (Anthony Ramos), an employee at a GameStop store who deals with his demanding boss Brad (Dane DeHaan) and is asked to do menial tasks. At a college, students Harmony (Talia Ryder) and Riri (Myha’la Herrold) meet during a party and bond (and eventually start a relationship) when Riri convinces Harmony to follow Keith and invest in GameStop. Harmony tells Riri that her father lost his business thanks to Wall Street guys, and after he died, she inherited his debt.
Keith has a younger brother, Kevin (Pete Davidson), who is a DoorDash driver that eats his customer’s food and also borrow’s Keith’s car without asking. They and their parents are still mourning the loss of their sister Sara, who died from COVID. Keith posts a heartfelt speech about how people have lost a lot during the pandemic and how he and his fellow investors are in this together.
Gabe and Steve discuss over the phone their plans to short-sell GME stocks because they think it’s worthless, and the company’s loss will earn them profits from their own investments. They even make fun of the investors who are looking into the stock, referring to them as “dumb money”. Elsewhere, billionaires Vlad Tenev (Sebastian Stan) and Baiju Bhatt (Rushi Kota) give an interview in Menlo Park ahead of the launch of their trading app Robinhood, and they are being backed by Citadel.
Following Keith’s advice, the investors of WallStreetBets (Jenny, Marcos, Harmony, Riri, among others) start to buy shares through apps like Robinhood and see their earnings go up, though they hesitate to sell unless Keith says it’s the right move.
Pretty soon, GameStop’s shares skyrocket, surprising everyone and causing huge losses for people like Gabe. He informs his wife Yaara (Olivia Thirlby) that they have lost over $6 billion as a result of the short squeeze. Gabe then contacts Steve and Ken to help bail him and Melvin Capital out. The news outlets begin to report on the buying frenzy and the rise in shares, causing shocked and surprised reactions from many of the investors.
At the girls’ college, they and their friends begin freaking out when they log onto their apps and find that buying options for GameStop have been stopped. Vlad is seen talking to Ken about making this move to prevent further losses to Robinhood and the hedge funds. The investors then see their funds deplete, making some like Jenny regret not cashing in when they had a chance.
Keith, along with Ken, Gabe, and Vlad, among others, are issued subpoenas. Keith is accused of possible insider trading while the hedge fund guys are also being investigated for their actions against retail investors. Keith is forced to resign from his job as a result of the investigation. worries to Kevin and Caroline over what he has to say for his upcoming testimony to Congress, but they stand by him for support. Gabe is also coached on what to say in his testimony to make himself sound more humble and not like a privileged rich guy.
On February 18, 2021, the men deliver their testimonies before Congress. Keith insists that he had no insider knowledge of how GameStop’s shares would soar, citing once again as he has before that he simply liked the stock. His followers, including Marcos, Riri, Harmony, Jenny, and even Kevin all watch and cheer in support. Caroline tells her husband that he’s a “fucking gangster”.
Some ending text appears, stating that Keith Gill’s overall net worth increased up to $40 million, but he is seen choosing to buy more shares instead of selling what he already has. He buys Kevin a new car so he won’t keep borrowing Keith’s, and the two are later seen having a footrace in the nude. Meanwhile, Marcos tells Brad that he has sold half his shares and will keep working at the GameStop store despite his disdain for Brad. Riri and Harmony also see an increase in their net worth, but Jenny is choosing to hold onto her shares.
More text states that Robinhood had the worst public debut for an app, and Vlad Tenev and Baiju Bhatt both lost their billionaire status. Messages leaked by Ken Griffin to Robinhood also led to an investigation by the SEC, but no charges were filed against either parties. Hedge funds like Melvin Capital eventually shut down. It is said that the movement Keith started is only just beginning, and while he has since retreated from the public eye, Wall Street can no longer ignore “dumb money”.
The film is based on the true story of the 2021 GameStop short squeeze, wherein several hedge fund managers tried to short-sell stocks in the company because they thought it would fail, and it would help them see an increase in profits from their investments. A small group of investors from the subreddit r/WallStreetBets started buying multiple shares in GameStop under the encouragement of investor Keith Gill.
After the hedge funds see their revenue stream decline, Robinhood founder Vlad Tenev helps put a pause on buying shares in GameStop since he is working alongside the managers of those hedge funds. This causes problems for some of the investors whose funds decline and make them regret not cashing out when they had the chance. Keith, plus the hedge fund managers, are issued subpoenas and are made to give testimonies before Congress. Keith insists he had no insider knowledge of how GameStop's shares would turn out, stating that he simply liked the stock.
No charges are filed against either parties, but some of the hedge funds are forced to shut down as a result, and Robinhood has a terrible public debut. Some of the investors eventually cashed out and saw a higher net worth than before, but Keith chose to hold onto his shares and has since retreated from the public eye. His influence on the movement started by the buying spree has forced Wall Street to pay more attention to small investors, or the "dumb money" that they are referred to.