In a GK-Throwback, we highlight a movie that may be more relevant now than it was during its introduction in 2000. The movie is Boiler Room, an aggressive, fast-talking, cult following of a movie in which the main character, Seth (Giovanni Ribisi), accomplishes exactly what he was out to do – become a millionaire. Not bad, right? It is not until Seth’s curiosity gets the best of him that he snoops, sneaks, and rubbernecks his way into FBI custody and onto the unemployment line. Could it be more relevant for our time?
Before Seth joins the (suspiciously) lucrative brokerage firm, he is a 19-year-old college dropout, running an illegal casino out of his home in Queens. It is at his casino/apartment that his friend Adam (Jamie Kennedy), suggests that he come to his firm for a group interview. Finally – Seth thinks to himself – a way to impress my father.
Seth agrees that selling stock seems better than dealing cards, and decides a day in a business suit wont hurt. He drives out to J.T. Marlin, a Wall-Street firm located off the LIE. Walking to the front door Seth notices the line of Ferrari’s, Lamborghini’s, and Porsche’s that occupy the parking lot. The impressive surroundings continue, as we join Seth in a dark conference room accompanied by a dozen other gentlemen – barely old enough to head to the bar after the interview – anxiously sitting on exquisite Italian leather chairs.
In the scene that follows, Ben Affleck gives one of his best monologues in his short career (see: Good Will Hunting) and pays homage to Alec Baldwin (see: Glengarry Glen Ross). “You become an employee of this firm, you will make your first million within three years. I’m gonna repeat that – you will make a million dollars. You want details? Fine. I drive a Ferrari, 355 Cabriolet, What’s up? I have a ridiculous house in the South Fork. I have every toy you could possibly imagine. And best of all kids, I am liquid.” With this quote, the tone of the movie is set. While in the “Boiler Room” (J.T. Marlin offices), the movie surges at an incredibly expeditious pace, including constant cold calling, persuasion, lying, and most of all – robbing people of money.
Seth becomes extremely successful in a short amount of time, but begins to wonder how J.T. Marlin employees make such great “rips” (commission) on trades, while brokers on Wall Street make pennies on the dollar. If only Seth did not have a conscience, he would have gone on to become a filthy rich millionaire like his J.T. Marlin peers, but it couldn’t be that easy.
*Spoiler Alert* This investigation leads Seth to uncover exactly how J.T. Marlin makes the kind of “rips” that it does. The brokers at J.T. Marlin convince people to invest in companies that do not exist, and pay a select few huge returns when they actually get in on an IPO. Not quite Bernie-like, but effective none-the-less.
This movie exemplifies the gluttony that is ever prevalent in America, and does so in an extremely suspenseful and entertaining way. Although the movie takes a few minutes to get going, the young group of actors, and the directorial debut of Ben Younger, fills this movie with an energy that is hard to ignore. Specific scenes and lines from the movie can be quoted with friends an associates for years to come, while every businessman wishes he could spin dough like Chris (Vin Diesel). There is a love story set in the background of the movie, but there is a reason why they created a fast-forward button.
As we lay in the midst of the worst economy in decades, and watch more and more wealthy businessmen get put behind bars for crimes of greed, the GK Team is curious when corporate America will grow it’s conscience, as Seth did in Boiler Room. Watching this movie, you are engulfed with tension and suspense – not knowing whether employees of J.T. Marlin know of the crimes they are committing, or are just ignorant to the fact. Have we as a people been ignorant as well
– Dan Romanow
Daniel Romanow is the Group Director at gkBRAND.