Boiler Room (2000)

reviewed by
Berge Garabedian

RATING: 7.5 /10 --> Very good movie

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In 1987, Charlie Sheen's character in WALL STREET asked his mentor Gordon Gekko "how much was enough?". Gekko responded: "It's not a question of enough, pal. It's a zero sum game, somebody wins, somebody loses. Money itself isn't lost or made, it's simply transferred from one perception to another." A great film for the 80s, but with day-trading, dot-com mania and a bullish market running rampant today, the question that now plagues the gang in this similarly themed flick is "how far would you go?". And what I want to know is...does greed still work?

PLOT: A young man caught between an overbearing father and his lust for the big money, gets a plush gig at an off-Wall Street brokerage house, and quickly becomes one of their top men on the phones. Unfortunately for the young lad, he soon discovers that the firm itself isn't as kosher as he was originally told.

CRITIQUE: Just call it GLENGARRY GLENROSS JR. or the SON OF WALL STREET since this film is nothing more than a modern-day remake of these two great films with some hipper-than-thou dialogue tossed around for kicks, an over-the-top rap soundtrack and several strong performances from its young cast of male hotshots. Giovanni Ribisi is one who has also been known as a solid actor in my neck of the woods, but hopefully this starring gig will get him the widespread recognition that he deserves. Ben Affleck pulls an "Alec Baldwin in Glengarry" cameo as the tough-as-nails supervisor who comes in every now and again and busts everybody's balls with a solid delivery and fun style. It's pretty obvious from his demeanor that he just loved playing this role! And boy, did he have some doozy lines to deliver. Vin Diesel is another standout as the man on the inside who kind of takes Ribis under his wing when he first joins the mini-Billionaire Boys Club. In fact, I would say that it was probably the combination of the great cast, tasty dialogue and interesting professional milieu that made this film so much more entertaining for me. Mind you, I have a background and degree in business, so there may be some bias on my part here : )

Now if you're looking for an original story, well this film just ain't for you. This tale follows the standard premise of any film which has the sympathetic innocent character from the outside being pulled into a (what seems like) once in a lifetime opportunity, only to find out that it's actually not as great an opportunity as once led to believe. This film tries to add some feelers with a back-story about Ribisi's cold hearted dad affecting his behavior, which only slightly worked for me, and the fruition of a romance between Ribi and a secretary, which should just have been left on the cutting room floor, but all in all, I was entertained throughout this film and thoroughly enjoyed the open references to the former films mentioned above. One thing I still don't understand is how studios keep trying to satisfy the most common denominator in films like this by adding a token romance for the obvious female target crowd, when in reality all that they are doing is taking the focus away from an interesting story set inside a highly toxic male testosterone environment. Stick to the story at hand folks, and they will come! Anyway, I still don't think that this film will particularly appeal to the female demographic since the focus of the film is basically on a bunch of spoiled, loud, brash, erect male penises out to make a million, but then again, does that really sound inviting to anyone? Well, I certainly enjoyed it plenty and it sure does give you a little more insight into the mighty worlds of cold-callers and stock dealers. So if you like all that sales lingo, don't mind the basic storyline, love the actors and enjoy well-written dialogue, then by all means, put this film on your list of to do's over the next weekend or so.

Little Known Facts about this film and its stars: Actors Vin Diesel and Giovanni Ribisi co-starred alongside one another in Spielberg's 1998 war drama SAVING PRIVATE RYAN (8/10). Diesel was also the voice of the "iron giant" in 1999's THE IRON GIANT (5/10), and has written and directed two films of his own, MULTI-FACIAL and STRAYS, which were screened at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival and 1997 Sundance Film Festival respectively. Giovanni Ribisi's birth name is Antonio Giovanni Ribisi. He is a member of the Church of Scientology. Ben Affleck's middle name is Geza. He reportedly received only $7,000 to star in Kevin Smith's CHASING AMY, but went on to pocket $600,000 for his role in ARMAGEDDON (8/10). Scott Caan is the son of actor James Caan. He is also a screenwriter in his own right, having recently sold the rights to his script CHASING THE PARTY: HOW HUGH HEFNER SAVED MY LIFE to mega-producer Jerry Bruckheimer. The film is apparently slated for production in early 2000, with Caan attached to star. Despite DAZED AND CONFUSED being Nicky Katt's breakthrough role, it is to be noted that he also played a schoolchild in 1984's GREMLINS. Writer/director Ben Younger makes his feature film directorial debut with this film. He is a 27-year old Brooklynite who attended the City University of New York studying in political science, and put himself through school by working as a stand-up comic. After becoming the youngest campaign manager in NY City, he switched from politics to filmmaking, and came up with the idea for this script when he was recruited as a boiler room trainee himself. What is a "boiler room"? It's a brokerage firm that houses a bunch of hard-working, smart-mouthed kids off the streets who pressure their cold-call customers any which way they can into buying stock in unknown or bogus companies for huge commissions. Once the price of the stock is driven high enough, insiders sell, making fortunes for themselves and often wiping out the savings of innocent investors. They are seductive, secretive firms where only those trained and recruited to be loyal are allowed inside. Recently, the North American Securities Administrators Association made prosecuting boiler rooms a top priority.

Review Date: February 10, 2000
Director: Ben Younger
Writer: Ben Younger
Producer: Jennifer Todd and Suzanne Todd
Actors: Giovanni Ribisi as Seth Davis
Vin Diesel as Chris Varick
Ben Affleck as Jim
Nicky Katt as Gregg
Genre: Drama
Year of Release: 2000
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(c) 2000 Berge Garabedian

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