“Billionaire Boys Club” (2018)
Running Time: 108 minutes
Written by: James Cox and Captain Mauzner
Directed by: James Cox
Featuring: Ansel Elgort, Taron Egerton, Kevin Spacey, Emma Roberts, Jeremy Irvine, Thomas Cocquerel, Rosanna Arquette, Cary Elwes and Judd Nelson
Ron Levin:“There are only 17 Bullas on the entire planet, and every single one of them… is locked in a museum.”
“There are only 17 Bullas on the entire planet, and every single one of them… is locked in a museum.”
Joe Hunt: “It’s a fake.”
Ron Levin:“But you thought it was an original.”
Joe Hunt: “Yeah.”
Ron Levin: “And why?… Because the perception of reality… is more real than reality itself…”
Released this week on DVD and Blu-ray is a one time possible awards contender in the remake “Billionaire Boys Club” (2018) which had already been made into a miniseries of the same name in 1987 with Judd Nelson as the main character. This time the appeal in it being remade, I assume is the fact that it is based on a true story, with some of the hottest up and coming talent in the industry, that offers equal amounts of comedy, drama and a touch of a thriller that ends up failing in two important places, one is that the story has a been there done that feel to it, which for me is the biggest problem as a movie has to at least feel special and original. The second issue, possibly its biggest one, is that it features Kevin Spacey in a pivotal role, which even after all this time feels like an uneasy watch, with him in a movie, especially knowing the unease he caused behind multiple television and movie sets. What is obviously coincidental is that this movie features as a narrative element the concept of honesty as well as authenticity which Spacey now has to deal with in his real life.
Interestingly the movie has at its heart two young actors’ who have made an impact in other films with either bigger named costars, or really experienced directors that know how to tell a story as well as how to communicate with their actor’s and draw out a performance. So in Ansel Elgort and Taron Egerton who are coming off the pretty fantastic “Baby Driver” (2017) and the “Kingsman” (2014-2017) movies respectively this was their time to shine as the leads in an ensemble, they needed to stand out as well as give really great performances, unfortunately this is not the case with “Billionaire Boys Club”. Not only does this movie do nothing new with its plot or narrative, all of the actor’s seems to be at a loss as to what movie they are in, as well as how to gauge their own performances onscreen. This also had the issue of being made just prior to the Kevin Spacey controversy so any real commercial value disappeared, this also shows the balls Ridley Scott had when he replaced Spacey with Christopher Plummer in “All the money in the world” (2017), in an attempt to save a movie as well as proving that their are some classy people in Hollywood. Of course this movie received a streaming and theatrical release and bombed on both accounts but to be fair it was not all due to Spacey, the filmmakers have to take some of the blame as well, not forgetting the producers as well who made some very poor decisions.
“Billionaire Boys Club” was directed by James Cox, co-written by Cox and Captain Mauzner who both have limited film making experience, in fact their highest profile movie, where they had the same roles was the John Holmes biopic “Wonderland” (2009) which was not critically or financially successful but did feature a very good Val Kilmer performance. Unfortunately with a movie like this that is based on a true story it is fairly easy to see where the plot is going especially with the narrative that reads like many similar stories that have populated television and film in the past twenty years. What was interesting about the miniseries was that it was produced not that long after the crimes that were committed unlike this production which is now considered a period piece, where all the crimes that are committed if carried out today would have easily been identified with a Google search so many of todays audience find this kind of story run of the mill and a little redundant. The other element that goes against this movie and something that should have been addressed is that almost all the characters in this movie are completely unlikeable, not only that but audiences do not really care about rich kids being ripped off by people who are inherently not good as well as not very appealing, this is a narrative weakness that should have been exploited.
“Billionaire Boys Club” is based around Joe Hunt who leads a group of wealthy young men in 1980s Los Angeles come up with a plan to get-rich-quick with a Ponzi scheme. The plan ends badly for all involved when Hunt and friend Tim Pitt end up murdering investor and con man Ron Levin.
As I have already said there are a few very good actors leading “Billionaire Boys Club” in Ansel Elgort and Taron Egerton who seem a little lost in this movie in fact they seem to be working against each other to a point which is a shame as they both could have really shined in this movie, it’s a real lost opportunity. The female co-stars are interesting in both Emma Roberts and Billie Lourd who have both been in multiple seasons of televisions “American Horror Story” (2011-present) and are always great in that, normally as witches, here whilst I loved seeing them, they are both wasted which is actually a great description of the entire cast.
There are no two ways about it, this movie is not great, it suffers from some ordinary direction, a trope laden plot that is as obvious as they get, it also has some very uninspired performances from actors that should really know better. There is also the added fact that the miniseries from the 1980s is actually superior and directed by someone who was a great television director, which is missed here. Finally this movie was released directly after the scandal that broke about Kevin Spacey, which casts a long shadow over not only this movie but also everything he has ever been involved with as he was not only accused of sexual harassment but sexual assault as well much on the sets of movies. My other concern is I question why this movie even made in the first place, it seems like it may have been a vehicle for the actors but is that a reason to make a movie like this, there is no real redeemable value in this, maybe if it was an original story or said something about the world we live in today but it has little value at all.
There is no doubt that I would not pay to see this movie but if it turned up on a streaming service then it might be worth the time although I would not expect much.