Boiler Room

dir-scr Ben Younger
with Giovanni Ribisi, Vin Diesel, Nia Long, Ben Affleck, Nicky Katt, Scott Caan, Tom Everett Scott, Ron Rifkin, Jamie Kennedy, Taylor Nichols, Bill Sage, Donna Mitchell
NewLine 00/US 2 out of 5 stars

Review by Rich Cline
Adapting the '80s greed-is-good ethos for the new millennium, Ben Younger's Boiler Room examines a gang of 20-something stock traders who want to become quick millionaires, regardless of ethics or legalities. Yes, they gather nightly to watch Oliver Stone's Wall Street, chanting the dialog Rocky Horror-style. But the truth is: These guys aren't brokers, they're telemarketers. Intriguing ... but the film is too busy being hip and preachy to notice the irony.

Seth (Ribisi) has always longed for the love of his dad (Rifkin), a federal judge. But that hasn't stopped him from embarking on a life of crime, running an illegal casino in his basement. Then a chance encounter introduces him to JT Marlin, a dodgy brokerage firm that offers much higher than normal commissions. His coworkers (Diesel, Caan, Kennedy) and bosses (Scott, Katt, Affleck) dive in to get the big bucks ... but Seth is too intelligent not to realise something fishy is going on. Can Dad help bail him out, or will Seth take him down with him?

The dialog isn't bad, and Younger directs with a real visual energy. But the rap soundtrack jars the senses and starts to throw things out of balance long before the story descends into a shallow romance between Seth and the company receptionist (Long) and lots of painfully obvious moralising, none of which is backed up by depth of character. Even so, the cast is good. The always-good Ribisi is soulfully introspective and sharply witty at the same time; Katt and Diesel rise above the supporting cast as Seth's respectively petulant and gung-ho office seniors. And the film's constant energy does keep us interested. But it's a pity the film doesn't go somewhere either clever or meaningful.

[15--themes, language] 6.Apr.00
US release 11.Feb.00; UK release 5.May.00

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"If one more critic (er ... reviewer) links the word testosterone with this movie, I will be forced to refer them to a new thesaurus where the words sexist, trite and dime store psychoanalysis are listed as far more capable synonyms for Boiler Room. Don't be fooled, Boiler Room is not really about Wall Street; in fact, it's barely about the stock market at all. What it is about is hot young actors (including a terribly miscast Ben Affleck) play-acting like it's the Eighties Greed Generation all over again, reciting monologues from Oliver Stone's Wall Street with all the veracity that one would expect from a Hollywood casting session, not from New Yawk stawk tradahs. These guys aren't really stock traders after all, they are cold-calling salesmen who are somehow promised million dollar salaries within a matter of months, so long as they brush ethics aside. This coulda been a contender had it chosen to focus on the young twentysomething urban men reared on gangsta rap and the internet and watching everyone profit from the flourishing economy but them (some internet stocks were up more than 3,000 percent in 1999 alone!). However, it quickly degenerates into facile moralizing, and good supporting turns (Diesel) give way to 'I'm doing this because my Daddy didn't love me enough.'" --Ryan M, Missouri.

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2000 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall