Film Commentary [2-21-00]
Wallstreet meets Glengarry Glen Ross - - Boiler Room
Genre: Drama
Grade = B+

Seth Davis (Giovanni Ribisi - the medic in Saving Private Ryan) is a young college dropout who has turned his apartment into a very successful but very illegal gambling casino. Everything is going well until his federal judge father (Ron Rifkin) finds out about it. In order to please his father by getting into a ‘legitimate’ line of work and an opportune meeting with a late night patron of his casino Greg Weinstein (Nicky Katt), he takes a job offer with Greg’s stock brokerage firm: the no-name firm of J.T. Marlin located not on Wall Street, but an hour away in a nondescript office building on Long Island.

Seth soon becomes a member of the fast-trading, high-dealing world of stockbrokers with high risk but incredibly high opportunities to become wealthy. The other brokers are a varied lot of 20-somethings who occasionally gather to watch the movie Wallstreet and mimic the lines of Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko the crooked stock trader and every broker’s hero. They are rowdy, love to gamble, have a loud good time, and occasionally brawl. Quite unlike the stockbrokers at the ‘name’ firms on Wall Street.

The new broker-trainees are given high-impact motivational lectures on how to sell and get rich in the Glengarry Glen Ross style. The brokers do not have individual offices, they operate in a large room full of phones and computers on top of folding tables. The boiler room. The stock is sold through cold-calling leads, such as doctors, and pitching them the offer to ‘get in early’ on a pharmaceutical company’s stock whose revolutionary new drug is about to be approved by the FDA. However, Seth soon discovers that the companies and the stock they are selling are a complete fraud and now has to deal with his father, who disowns him after he discovers what kind of firm Seth works for, and the federal authorities who have been watching them all.

Directed by Ben Younger, this is a film that very effectively portrays the hard sell world of the minor stock broker. The film rivets you with the atmosphere of the boiler room and the attitudes of the young stockbrokers who appear to have it all but blow their money on expensive cars and cocaine. The movie is very fast-paced, with good character development and dialog. The smooth lined hard-sell is a Shakespearian drama to behold as the brokers reel in their marks. Unfortunately, the film does tend to slow down at the wrong moment, has a seemingly tacked on relationship between Seth and the black receptionist. Mostly, I was annoyed by the hip-hop music in the soundtrack and constant quotes of rap songs in a false white imitation of a street- black voice. However, although this film is not at the same level of overall quality of either Wall Street and the vastly underrated great film Glengarry Glen Ross, it nontheless is a capable film portraying what is a contemporary version of the confusion of modern morality and boasts excellent performances from the cast, notably Ben Affleck as the firm’s reptilianly wealthy 27 year-old owner, Vin Diesel (the soldier in Saving Private Ryan who gets shot by the Nazi sniper in the French Street) as Seth’s new friend and eventual mentor at the firm, and especially Ron Rifkin as the father. Surprising, this script is based on real news. See: Real Boiler Room Brokers Charged

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