Boiler Room

Date:    March 26, 2000


Seth Davis- Giovanni Ribisi
Chris Varick - Vin Diesel
Abbie Halpert - Nia Long
Jim Young - Ben Affleck

Director: Ben Younger

"Welcome, to the new American Dream

 Greed, capitalism, power, three terms that clearly defined the 90s.  What can I get, how much can I have, and how can I get it, were questions that all of us probably asked at one point.  Wall Street gave us a cinematic demonstration of all 3, and obviously set an inspirational standard, which Boiler Room proudly carries into the next millennium.  There is even a scene, akin to the Rocky Horror Picture Show fanaticism, which pays homage.  No movie in recent memory has taken us inside what drives us, showed us the victors and the spoils, as successfully as this one does.

Boiler Room tells the tale of a typical young Gen-X slacker, eschewed by his father, loved, but encouraged by his mother, and struggling, doing whatever it takes, to keep his head above water.  He never really dreams of being anymore, because he has found what makes him happy, even if it doesn’t make anyone else around him feel the same one.  One day, opportunity literally comes knocking at his door, and you can almost see the dollar signs pop dreamily into his eyes.  He joins an questionable investment firm with guarantees of “being a millionaire within three years”  Now I ask you, who could resist such temptation, very few of us I say.  From this point the story builds like a house of cards, perched precariously upon a wooden raft, there is lurching, and bumpiness, but over every wave, is yet another pot of gold.  Throughout the movie, you can sense the tension behind the power, the truth and  the money.  The question to ultimately be answered is which will win out, greed, or conscience.

 Those who say that money can’t buy happiness…don’t have any”

 Think of this as a rich man’s testosterone fest, with dollars and Ferrari’s, replacing bikini women and explosions.  The story is masterfully told and written, weaving us in, with hardly any plot at all, focusing more on how easy it is to get caught up, and blinded in the pleasure of it all.  The only downfall being yet another example of feeling the need to insert a romance subplot. It seems forced, unnecessary and takes away from the sheer magic that the rest of the film creates. There are several scenes which show just how well the writer understands his subject matter and relates it to us.  These include the initial sale by a wonderful Vin Diesel, a chastising lesson in sales from Ribisi, and of course, the delicious wicked swagger, with which Ben Affleck plays every scene.  He is usually an actor that I can take or leave, but here, like Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross, he seems to revel in being over the top.  He walks in the room, and takes over, hell, if I was living in Alaska, I would have bought ice cubes from him.  The constant throughout, and glue that keeps this movie from careening into over-the-top unbelievability, is the performance of Ribisi.  His resume may be short, but he has shown a varied range in every role he’s done.  From Saving Private Ryan (showing vulnerability) to The Other Sister (showing emotional diversity) to here (showing his real, human side that most people in this age group will relate to) Giovanni will be, and should be, heard from again, and again.

Ultimately, Boiler Room is a wonderful reflection of what the 90s turned us into. Somehow, what we have, became more important in defining us, than who we are. It has to be hard for all of these people to look in the mirror in the morning, but hey, what a nice mirror it is. However with all of these joys, Boiler Room also shows the cost at which pleasure may come.  It never trivializes, nor exploits but rather gives us a hauntingly realistic view of what that person on the other side of those annoying sales calls, actually goes through every day.  I do suggest that you watch Wall Street, and Glengarry Glen Ross, the two obvious inspirations here, and then wander into the Boiler Room.  It is a journey you may not want to take, but one that you will relate to, and learn more about yourself, and those around you during the journey. ($$$ out of $$$$)

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