It’s rare that a documentary about the stock market turns out to be actual fun. In fact, I can’t think of another occasion. However, Eat the Rich: The GameStop Saga (Netflix) is full of surprises. This rollicking three-parter recounts how a ragtag band of millennial misfits joined forces on the website Reddit to rescue their favourite video game store from the clutches of fat cats. An air-punch of a story ensues.
In January 2021, US retail chain GameStop (the rough UK equivalent is a cross between Blockbuster Video and Dixons) was seriously struggling. Wall Street vultures began circling. That is, until amateur traders mobilised on social media.
Together they hatched an audacious plan to get rich quick, disrupt the market and beat hedge funds at their own game. It was David vs Goliath for the digital age. Well, if David was a slightly stoned conspiracy theorist on a laptop in his bedroom while Goliath sat smugly in a Manhattan corner office.
Punters piled in to inflate GameStop’s price. The trend went viral. Elon Musk got involved, because of course he did. Over the course of a frenzied fortnight, GameStop’s share value soared by 1,500 per cent and triggered a short squeeze that threatened to bring down the system. Was it all a big joke, driven by lockdown boredom? Or a game-changing power shift and payback for the 2008 crash?
Happily for film-makers, online investment is a treasure trove of colourful characters. There’s rapper Mikey Guggenheim, who busts out a rhyme about stock prices and ends up semi-naked. There’s pro gambler Chris “Krispy” Ream, who lost his house but laughs it off. There’s YouTuber “Roaring Kitty” (real name: the rather more prosaic Keith Gill) who made a mint but ended up in front of a federal hearing.
The stakes might be high but the narrative tone echoes the daft online memes that drove the fiasco. Disney animations and animal clips illustrate points. Even Mr Bean and the Cooper's Hill Cheese Roll make fleeting cameos. It’s a wild story, told in pacy, pulsating style which refuses to take itself too seriously.
Eat the Rich makes a refreshing change from the streaming service’s usual factual diet of ghoulish true-crime. It doesn’t bloat but barrels along, with the whole series coming in at under two hours. Did I fully understand the financial ins and outs? Nope. Did I enjoy the ride anyway? Heck yes. Consider me invested.