They call it "Money Monster," but it's really "Facepalm: The Movie."
Director Jodie Foster's eye-rolling update of the "Network" and "King of Comedy" formula squanders the well-past-its-expiration-date but still compelling pairing of George Clooney and Julia Roberts. Not only does Foster make the unforgivable miscalculation of hardly giving the stars any time on screen together, she shoehorns them into an insipid plot intent on one-upping itself with increasingly bizarre twists.
It gets to the point that if a space monkey wielding a gun showed up, it wouldn't be at all surprising.
Things start off reasonably enough, though still a little off. Clooney plays an egotistical cable news stock market talk show host. His lines and presence sell himself well for the role, but once he breaks it down in multiple dance sequences reminiscent of Fly Girls from "In Living Color," it's a sign of freakier things to come.
The first of many paradigm-shifting plot twists comes along. I won't spoil it here, but will give the writers credit for managing a genuine surprise because it's so ludicrous. At that point, we have an action movie on our hands, with the Clooney character forced to use his devilish silver tongue to negotiate the safety of himself and everyone around him. A villain enters the picture, forming a gradual, unbelievable alliance with another character that -- when revealed -- ruins what little credibility the storytelling has left.
Four films into her directing career, Foster has yet to prove herself as a reliable filmmaker. She excels most in TV ("Orange is the New Black," "House of Cards") and in openly absurd black comedies ("The Beaver"). "Money Monster" takes some baby steps down the road of impactful satire, but it's impossible to take any of its anti-captialism messages seriously when Clooney is doing the Roger Rabbit and punching up movie soundbites like a shock jock.
Seemingly obsessed with doing anything it takes to avoid becoming boring, "Money Monster" wilts to the point that it becomes more compelling to keep your eyes on the clock than the screen. By the end, both Clooney and Roberts are frazzled messes, and you feel the same way.
RATING: 1.5 STARS OUT 4
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