Seth’s boss, Greg, on the other hand, is still living out of boxes eight months after moving into his mansion; Chris, fer pete’s sake, still lives with his mom. For Boiler Room’s sharks, it’s just a way of keeping score — who’s got the most hit points?
Boiler Room may show us the fruits of what the likes of Gekko wrought, but Bud, back there in the 80s, still has a chance to escape.
JT Marlin once again has unlimited trading authorization.
Seth is sitting in an armchair with a drink in his hand. I want you all to know that those pikers at the NASD are finally off our ass. I want all of you guys from those teams to go up to suite 418.
Nowadays, though, you barely even hear the word greed anymore — now, it’s smart investing. Whenever a movie opens — as Boiler Room does — with a disclaimer that any real-life similarities to characters or situations contained therein are purely coincidental and wholly unintended, I tend to believe that any similarities are actually purely planned and wholly intentional. Seth (Giovanni Ribisi: Saving Private Ryan, The Postman) doesn’t know this when he joins the firm, though — he thinks he’s taking a job that will earn him the respect of his demanding, hard-to-please father (Ron Rifkin: The Negotiator, L. An upright criminal — he runs, almost as a community service, an illegal casino out of his Queens apartment — he doesn’t see through the layers of seeming legitimacy to the fraud underneath at first. Marlin doesn’t want experienced stockbrokers — the company wants its fresh blood to be as naïve and greedy as the investors it bilks, and it wants to immerse them in its aggressive, testosterone-charged atmosphere and inculcate them in the ways of their scam without ever letting them believe they’re doing anything wrong.
I didn’t personally see anything suspiciously borrowed from reality myself, but Boiler Room has a such a frightening ring of truth to it that I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody somewhere was calling lawyers. It doesn’t help that the firm has a cultlike policy of separating its employees from the outside world — a recruiter for Marlin, played with canny sharkiness by Ben Affleck (Dogma, Shakespeare in Love), warns his new hires not to pay any attention to the family and friends who will warn them away from such a cutthroat job. Seth likens the environment at Marlin to a “Hitler youth rally,” and he’s not far off. The kind of guy who smiles shyly at the pretty receptionist, Abby (Nia Long: Stigmata), and knows the value of tender wooing, Seth doesn’t belong in a place where Abby is dismissed as a “whore” and “trouble” by Seth’s boss, Greg (Nicky Katt: One True Thing, Batman and Robin), once she trades him in for Seth.Boiler Room has been likened to 1987’s Wall Street, but, boy, this Oliver Stone flick looks downright quaint by comparison. Set in the heady days before the October 1987 crash — and before anyone had any clue that those wild times were but a prelude the even crazier 90s — Wall Street has more in common with Working Girl (which came just a year later) than with Boiler Room.Like Girl’s secretary from the boroughs looking to make it big in Manhattan, here Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen: Being John Malkovich, Platoon) has working-class roots but is determined to be a player on Wall Street. They wear very sharp suits: Hugo Boss, Armani, very slick. BUS - NIGHT (CONTINUOUS) Exterior shots of the casinos bring us into Bally's Grand. BALLY'S - NIGHT (CONTINUOUS) A top level manager for Bally's runs toward them. The wild ride that the stock market has taken in the last few years must have spawned real “companies” like J. Though Seth admits he’s looking for a “quick and easy buck” and gets high on the closing and selling, he’s a gentle guy — if not quite a gentleman — at heart, and so he never really fits in socially at J. The firm’s HQ may be off exit 53 of the Long Island Expressway (in other words, worlds away from Manhattan) but they act, or so Seth thinks, like they’re on Wall Street.But when the gang from Marlin — including Seth’s old friend Adam (Jamie Kennedy: Scream 3, Bowfinger), the thuggish Richie (Scott Caan: Enemy of the State), and the cool and slippery Chris (Vin Diesel: The Iron Giant, who’s much scarier and effective here than he is in Pitch Black) — ventures into Manhattan for a night out, actual Wall Street brokers recognize them for the swaggering, bridge-and-tunnel assholes they are.Watch him weasel some valuable gossip from an old college friend (James Spader: Supernova) with a casual, “Come on, everybody’s doing it.” “Greed is good…greed works,” Gekko intones famously in Wall Street, and it was meant to be a shocking pronouncement at the time. That greed is good is a given today, when suburban ladies’ investment clubs are pulling down 20 percent returns and dotcom IPOs make twentysomethings millionaires overnight, and heroes for it.Sure, like Boiler Room’s Seth, Bud has issues with his dad, Carl (Martin Sheen: Monument Avenue) — but where Seth wants to get closer to his father, Bud wants distance from the old man.Good ol’ down-to-earth Carl: an airplane mechanic and union rep for Bluestar Airlines, he wonders why Bud doesn’t just move home to Queens if he’s struggling on his own in Manhattan.