“BLACK MONDAY” By Tim Riley
Shades of “The Wolf of Wall Street” and Gordon Gekko, and just about any film about Wall Street or with its name in a film title, are all you really need to know about Showtime’s dark comedy series “Black Monday.”
The title refers to the stock market crash of October 19, 1987, and how things evolved over the period of one year preceding this financial calamity, as told from a comically cynical point of view.
The first scene is jarring in that it starts with the day of the crash, when a red Lamborghini limousine parked in front of the Stock Exchange becomes the landing pad for an apparent suicidal window jumper.
Flash back to one year earlier and Don Cheadle’s Maurice “Mo” Monroe, acting pretty much like his immoral management consultant in “The House of Lies,” runs an outsider brokerage firm called the Jammer Group.
Fueled by massive amounts of cocaine and an inflated ego, Monroe manages his motley crew of traders as if they were all residing in the fraternity of “Animal House,” where the high spirits of John Belushi and Tim Matheson and the rest run amok.
In other words, and to an even greater extreme, the Jammer Group’s traders are foul-mouthed boors who would run over their own mothers to scam clients and execute big payoff trades.
Standing out in this group of sexist sharks is the lone female Dawn (Regina Hall), almost equally crude as the guys, but also Monroe’s ex-girlfriend who just might be the brains, if not the voice of reason, of the whole operation.
Then along comes Andrew Rannells’s Blair Pfaff, a naïve newcomer who has put together a trading algorithm that could be revolutionary. He’s quickly marked for victimhood by the manipulative two-faced Monroe.
“Black Monday” is full of swagger and brutal satire as it mercilessly mocks the brokerage world. It’s also crude, indulgent, outrageous, offbeat and darkly funny, almost as if the script was penned by David Mamet.