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It's funny because it's true. And it's tragic and frightening for the same reason.

Adapted from Michael Lewis's bestselling book The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, Adam McKay's stylized comedic take on the international banking collapse of 2007-08 nerds up Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt and an Oscar-baiting Christian Bale as real-life money-managing eccentrics who, independently, come to realize a market based on subprime loans is going to tank. They decide to short the booming housing market, basically betting on the collapse of the world's economy.

McKay demystifies big-money jargon and esoterica in enterprising – disruptive? – fourth-wall-smashing ways, such as having shiny pop singer Selena Gomez cameo-explain synthetic collateralized debt obligations.

McKay made a co-name for himself with Will Ferrell collaborations including Anchorman, but here he lets the outlandishness of a rigged, fairy-tale financial system create its own serious absurdity. The Big Short has a reckless, off-balance energy, with an ending that doesn't really end the uncertainty: The collapse could happen again, no joke.