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Movie Review: Money Never Sleeps, but the Audience Might


A former Lehman Brothers exec and best-selling author says Stone bit off more than he could chew.

I went to the premiere of Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps at New York's famous Zeigfield Theater on Wednesday night. Fox hosted the event and Rupert Murdoch and director Oliver Stone were at the cocktail party.

If the film were a round of golf, it shot 36 on the front and 50 on the back. If it were an NFL game, it lead 28-3 at halftime, only to be shut out 40-0 in the second half. I noticed early on there was lots of excitement, applause, and laughter dancing around the theater, but at the end of the film everyone got up and left, a little confused and with zero emotion.

I was surprised and flattered by how many lines from my book ended up in the movie. The plot is similar, a Wall Street trader living through the gut-wrenching ups and downs of the financial crisis. There are majestic shots of the New York City skyline, but a few too many of them, and there are more cameos in this film than in Stanley Kramer's It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.

The film bit off more themes than it could chew: the financial crisis, green technology, a love story, a father and daughter breakup story, the emerging markets, a Bear Stearns/Lehman failure, a Goldman Sachs (GS) villain, two scenes at the Federal Reserve, and a Gordon Gekko comeback. The movie was bipolar and all over the place.

My favorite part of the film is the lesson that in the darkest days of any financial tragedy what matters most are love and family. Life goes on. My second favorite part was Michael Douglas' vintage speech on his fictional book lecture tour. He emerges from prison and writes a best-selling book and is on stage at a university in New York City. In about two minutes and 25 seconds he (and Oliver Stone) do a masterful job describing and explaining the financial crisis. That's hard to do, trust me I know.

Favorite Line: "I'm small-time compared to these crooks," Gekko of today says, comparing his '80s character to the bailout billionaires of 2008-09.

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
opens in theaters today. See also: The Top 10 Lessons of Wall Street Movies.
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