Parents' Guide to

Too Big to Fail

By Brian Costello, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Complex account of 2008 economic collapse; lots of language.

Movie NR 2012 98 minutes
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As a film based on complex true events, TOO BIG TO FAIL presents a thrilling "behind closed doors" narrative of the 2008 economic collapse. It details how major financial players -- from Hank Paulson to Warren Buffett, Tim Geithner to Jamie Dimon, among many others -- responded to the myriad crises that led to the near-economic collapse and bank bailouts of 2008. The all-star cast turns in compelling performances, and the "fly on the wall" nature of each tense scene allows the audience to truly feel the tremendous stress and gravity of the decisions being made and how they affect pretty much everyone on the planet.

What prevents Too Big to Fail from being the absolute definitive account of what went wrong in 2008 (for that, check the documentary Inside Job) lies in the difficulty of breaking down the complexities of the collapse and its ramifications for "Main Street" in language that most people can understand. A crash course explanation is attempted during one of the meetings in Paulson's office, and Paulson tries to explain what a total collapse of Wall Street would mean in ordinary terms (frozen credit lines = no milk in the store), but in the chaos of the story unfolding, there simply isn't enough time to get to the simplified specifics of the "whys" of the thing. Nonetheless, as an account of the interplay between Wall Street and government and how their decisions effect us all, Too Big to Fail is as impressive as it is engrossing.

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