Adam McKay’s best known as the director of Will Ferrell comedies like Anchorman and Step Brothers. His films tend to be weird, bizarre, and silly. But his 2010 buddy cop comedy The Other Guys ended on a note that was more outraged than outrageous: Animated infographic closing credits that outlined the reasons and details of the 2008 economic collapse (which was the background of the case investigated in the film by Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg’s characters).

In hindsight, that was probably the first clue that McKay would eventually wind up here, directing The Big Short, based on the non-fiction book by Michael Lewis (who also wrote the books that inspired Hollywood hits The Blind Side and Moneyball). McKay’s put aside the wacky shenanigans (or at least pushed them into the background) and brought the subtext into focus, following a group of men (played by the impressive quartet of Christian Bale, Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling, and Steve Carell) as they predict and then attempt to exploit the impending 2008 recession. Here’s the official plot synopsis:

When four outsiders saw what the big banks, media and government refused to, the global collapse of the economy, they had an idea: The Big Short. Their bold investment leads them into the dark underbelly of modern banking where they must question everyone and everything.  Based on the true story and best-selling book by Michael Lewis (The Blind Side, Moneyball),  and directed by Adam Mckay (Anchorman, Step Brothers) The Big Short stars Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt.

The Big Short opens in theaters this Christmas.

It’s certainly outside of McKay’s comfort zone, but he’s a talented guy and an underrated artist; I’m hopeful his absurdist comedy will feel right at home amidst the absurdity of the American economy at its worst. The Big Short opens in limited release on December 11, and expands on December 23.

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