From Schlubs to Sharks

Boiler Room

Is Boiler Room derivative? Yeah, a little bit. The guys we meet here are the Sons of Gekko, and with a few more years of disappointments on them, they would feel right at home in Mamet's tattered real-estate office. Is the movie already dated? Oddly, it is. The SEC says it's redoubling its efforts to shut down sleazy brokerages, but online stock trading -- every investor his or her own broker -- has probably taken a bigger bite out of such operations. Not only that, even old Uncle Herb in Des Moines has learned the ropes: After four or five years playing the markets, he can compute a price-earnings ratio and properly read a prospectus.

Despite its faults Boiler Room deserves a careful viewing. As the expression of a certain moment in American social history -- drenched in envy, devoid of moral stricture, driven by youthful arrogance -- this pitch-perfect, richly detailed portrait of raw greed works very well, thank you.

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