Billionaire Boys Club marks the latest in the series of “rise and fall of bad people in America” movies that pop up a couple of times a year, follow the same basic plot, and reach similar conclusions. This one is based on “real” events and follows a couple of preppie young adults who make a get-rich-quick scheme and slowly but surely collapse under its weight when just one thing goes wrong. What follows after that is not going to surprise many people, but it involves a lot of panicked decisions, which as well know are the best kinds of decisions.
The two men are Joe Hunt (Ansel Elgort) and Dean Karny (Taron Egerton). They have known each other for years and after a chance meeting decide to try to start up an investment company. That turns into a Ponzi scheme. Lots of people invest and are promised 50% profits, which in all but the most tumultuous markets falls under the “too good to be true” category of promises. I’m not trying to victim blame here, but let it be a lesson: if someone promises you 50% profits, maybe dig a little deeper.
Anyway, the house of cards comes crashing down after they begin to take the money of Ron Levin (Kevin Spacey), and the final half of the movie is the aforementioned fall. What exactly transpires is something I’ll leave to the movie, lest I get complaints about spoiling a real-life story, but if you’ve seen one of these movies before, you’re not going to be terribly surprised. They follow predictable arcs and only rarely deviate in a substantial enough way for the plot to be engaging.
Instead, they usually fall on characters, dialogue, technical filmmaking, or something else in order to succeed. Billionaire Boys Club is lackluster in most of these areas, especially the first two. The characters are either stock or nonexistent and have nothing interesting to offer us, and the dialogue is flat, unengaging, and is one of the reasons the characters are so dull, really. The various relationships have no life to them, and it gets to the point where you begin to dread any time someone talks. The actors struggle to make any of it sound authentic.
The only interesting thing about Billionaire Boys Club is the casting of Judd Nelson, who plays Ansel Elgort’s father. Nelson played the Joe Hunt character in an ’80s miniseries version of this same story, and now he’s playing the father of his previous character. Is there any payoff to that? I mean, there isn’t really a chance for there to be. But now that you know that, if you decide to watch the movie, you’ll be able to remark “neat,” upon seeing him. I bet that’ll make you feel good for a second.
Billionaire Boys Club is a generic rise-and-fall movie that does nothing to elevate itself or differentiate itself among a sea of similar looking and feeling films. Its plot is bog-standard—even if it is based on a real life story—its characters are bland, the dialogue is wooden, and not even a cast of good actors can make it even remotely engaging. There’s a bit of style to the filming and it generally looks pretty good, but that’s about all that can be said about it.
Conclusion: Billionaire Boys Club is a hollow and generic movie.
Recommendation: Only watch Billionaire Boys Club if you love rise-and-fall stories.