Photo courtesy of Glamsquad

September means the kick-off to society season in Dallas-Fort Worth, with a roster of ritzy galas, luxe luncheons, and other glam get-togethers already filling up calendars.

And if you're not on the guest list for those, chances are you have at least one wedding on the horizon as the weather cools and couples opt to tie the knot.

But there's one very important element you can check off your get-ready list: hair, makeup, and nails.

Glamsquad, the go-to on-demand beauty service that's already revered in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, DC, Boston, and San Francisco, has launched in the Dallas-Fort Worth Area. (Houston, get ready: Glamsquad is headed there in October.)

There's no need to trek to a salon when the beauty professionals come to your home, office, or hotel. Just click away on the Glamsquad app or at glamsquad.com. Services are available seven days a week, 365 days a year, and you can book as early as 6 am and as late as 9 pm with as little as two hours notice.

And you're not just confined to major gala glam — wedge in your weekly mani/pedi, get a fresh blowout before a big meeting, or just amp up your date-night makeup, all on your schedule and in a convenient setting.

The talented and trusted beauty professionals Glamsquad employs are all hand-selected, background-checked, and rigorously vetted to guarantee consistent, high-quality results with every appointment.

The beauty pros arrive with all the necessary products and tools, and if you really click with a certain provider then you can request them again.

There is even a dedicated weddings team consisting of a curated squad of bridal-certified beauty professionals, plus a wedding concierge to support you every step of the way, from the engagement photos to the big day.

Additionally, Glamsquad offers services for large-scale occasions like corporate events, photo shoots, birthdays, bachelorette parties, and more, booked via a dedicated concierge team.

Since its launch in 2014, Glamsquad has beautified more than 15,000 weddings and 4,000-plus private events, earning more than half a million five-star reviews.

Dallasites ready to try out Glamsquad can score $25 off their first appointment with the code CMDallas.

Valid for one-time use and with new clients only, the code can be used on either the Glamsquad app or when booking online. Offer expires on December 30, 2023. Now go look and feel your best this fall!

Glamsquad hair and makeup

Photo courtesy of Glamsquad

Feel like a movie star on your schedule.

Photo by Ashley Gongora

Dallas socialites delight in summer designs at Crystal Charity 10 Best Dressed event

Ladies Who Lunch

Dallas fashionistas didn't need to travel to New York Fashion Week for a high-profile runway show — designer Adam Lippes debuted his spring/summer 2024 collection right here in Big D, as part of the 48th annual Crystal Charity Ball Ten Best Dressed Women of Dallas event.

The luncheon and fashion show, which many consider the kick-off to fall society season, returned to its usual format at Neiman Marcus downtown, chaired this year by Patty Leyendecker. Hunky models in tuxedos welcomed a who's who of the city's philanthropic queens to the first floor, where they sipped Champagne and sparkling water surrounded by perfume and jewels.

Then it was upstairs for the fashion show, where Neiman Marcus' Ryan Ross, the Dallas Cowboys' Charlotte Jones, and 2023 Crystal Charity Ball chair Angie Kadesky conveyed the nonprofit's mission to the attendees: to fund seven children’s beneficiaries with a collective need of $6.6 million.

This is partly done with major help from this year's Ten Best Dressed, who all strutted down the runway in Lippes' latest, in front of the designer himself. Marybeth Conlon, Monica Eastin, Kim Hext, Libby Hegi, Meredith Land, Ann McPherson, Wendy Messmann, Kim Quinn, Lisa Rocchio, and Sunie Solmon were selected for this honor by members of the Crystal Charity Ball committee.

Claire Emanuelson was also announced as this year's Hall of Fame honoree, a distinction earned after being named to the Ten Best Dressed list for three consecutive years.

After channeling tropical vacation vibes with the fashion show, attendees were whisked up another few floors for an elegant luncheon of Maine lobster salad and a passion fruit tart, complemented by rosé, Sancerre, and bubbly.

Spotted among the ladies (and gents) who lunch were Lisa Cooley, Priscilla and Chaz Martin, Lisa Laughlin, Susan Geyer, Susanne Eades, Kelli Ford, Electra Ford, Gabrielle Gilmore, Karen Dollar, Lisa Woodruff, Delilah Boyd, Carole Ann Brown, Cecy Feld, Lilian Dona, Lisa Meyer, Marlene Cox, Lianne Bernstein, and Stacey Walker.

The independent nonprofit's grand finale, the Crystal Charity Ball, is set for December 9 at the Hilton Anatole. This year's artful theme is "Masterpieces in the Making."

Since 1952, Crystal Charity Ball has distributed more than $190 million to the children of Dallas County. The 2023 recipients include:

After-School All-Stars
Buckner Children and Family Services
Fair Park First
Family Gateway
Metrocare Services
The Salvation Army of North Texas
YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas

2023 Crystal Charity Ball 10 Best Dressed luncheon

Photo by Ashley Gongora

Wendy Messmann walks the runway in the Adam Lippes fashion show.

Facebook/Kristin Chenoweth

Kristin Chenoweth's dreamy Dallas wedding tops this week's 5 most-read stories

This week's hot headlines

Editor's note: A lot happened this week, so here's your chance to get caught up. Read on for the week's most popular headlines. Looking for the best things to do this weekend? Find that listhere.

1. Kristin Chenoweth's dreamy Dallas wedding includes 7-Eleven Slurpees and 'Wicked' Margaritas. Tony- and Emmy-winning actress and singer Kristin Chenoweth married musician Josh Bryant in Dallas on Saturday, September 2, and according to People magazine's exclusive invitation to the wedding, the star-studded celebration was filled with Dallas-y details.

2. Dallas restaurant dedicated to sliders closes storefront in Deep Ellum. A Dallas restaurant dedicated to sliders is closing its brick and mortar location, but is not going away: Easy Slider, the concept from partners Caroline Perini and Miley Holmes that puts a gourmet twist on sliders, is closing its storefront in Deep Ellum at 2701 Main St.

3. 4 Dallas-Fort Worth universities earn top spots on new list of best U.S. colleges. Four Dallas-Fort Worth area universities have risen through the ranks in a highly anticipated new list of the country's best universities. Niche, an education review and ranking website, has deemed Southern Methodist University the fifth best college in Texas.

4. Save the date for Dallas' 11 most glam galas and lavish luncheons this fall. Dallas' fall fundraising forecast calls for champagne-sprinkled afternoons and haute evenings to make it rain millions for local nonprofits. Beyond being fun, fancy parties to attend, these glitzy galas and lavish lunches raise crucial funds for organizations around Dallas.

5. Creative new BBQ restaurant in Dallas has it all: brisket and brunch. There's a new barbecue restaurant now open in Dallas not only with barbecue but also brunch: Called Barrel & Bones, it's part of a small (but growing!) chain with locations in The Colony and Carrollton, and is making its official Dallas debut near Galleria Dallas, at 12300 Inwood Rd. #130.

Photo by Tamytha Cameron

Save the date for Dallas' 11 most glam galas and lavish luncheons this fall

The gown lowdown

Dallas' fall fundraising forecast calls for champagne-sprinkled afternoons and haute evenings to make it rain millions for local nonprofits.

Cattle Baron's Ball blazes in with a 50th anniversary bash featuring pop-country queen Shania Twain. Two power lunches star powerful actresses Kerry Washington and Brooke Shields. And Crystal Charity Ball doubles down on the art and soul of its mission with "Masterpieces in the Making."

Beyond being fun, fancy parties to attend, these glitzy galas and lavish lunches raise crucial funds for organizations around Dallas, many of which are still feeling the economic effects of the pandemic. So grab your pen, circle these all-important dates in your social diary, and get those gowns and tuxes to the cleaners.

Crystal Charity Ball Ten Best Dressed Fashion Show & Luncheon, September 8
Per tradition, the annual Crystal Charity Ball luncheon and fashion show honoring the 10 best-dressed women of Dallas (as chosen by the organization) will kick off the fall society season. The 48th edition will take place at Neiman Marcus Downtown and will start with a late-morning champagne reception, followed by a seated luncheon and runway fashion presentation with guest designer Adam Lippes. Guiding the event are Angie Kadesky, Crystal Charity Ball chair, and Patty Leyendecker, Fashion Show chair. This year's "best-dressed" honorees areMarybeth Conlon, Monica Eastin, Kim Hext, Libby Hegi, Meredith Land, Ann McPherson, Wendy Messmann, Kim Quinn, Lisa Rocchio, and Sunie Solmon; Claire Emanuelson is the Hall of Fame honoree. Proceeds will help fund seven local children's charities. Tickets are sold out, but for more information, visit the website.

New Friends New Life Luncheon featuring Kerry Washington, September 29
New Friends New Life will welcome Kerry Washington, an Emmy-winning, and SAG nominated actor, producer, director and lifelong advocate and activist, as the speaker at its annual luncheon, a celebration of the nonprofit’s 25th anniversary. Taking place at the Hyatt Regency Dallas, the luncheon is co-chaired by Tracey Nash-Huntley and David Huntley, and Elizabeth Carlock Phillips and Kevin Phillips. Nancy Ann and Ray L. Hunt, Pat and Pete Schenkel, and Gail and Dr. Gerald Turner are honorary co-chairs. New Friends New Life assists trafficked and sexually exploited teen girls, women and their children, and raises awareness of the issue. Luncheon tickets start at $250, available on the event website.

Dallas Symphony Gala and After Party, September 30
The DSO's mega-gala is a "choose your own adventure" event: come for the concert only, dance the night away at the after-party, or make an entire evening of it and start early with a pre-concert reception and dinner. This year's Gala Concert stars two music luminaries: pianist Emanuel Ax and mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard. Leonard makes her DSO debut in selections from Bizet’s beloved Carmen, and Ax will perform works by Chopin. Maestro Fabio Luisi and the DSO will round out the evening with Ravel's La Valse. The After-Party Experience, featuring live music by Q The Band, will take place in the Meyerson Symphony Center lobby afterwards. This year's gala is under the guidance of co-chairs Kim and Greg Hext, with Diane and Hal Brierley as honorary chairs; Jane Humphrey and Samantha Wortley are co-chairing the after-party. Tickets (starting at $140 for concert and after-party and $1,250 for the whole evening) are available on the DSO site.

Trailblazer Awards Luncheon featuring Brook Shields, October 10
Model, actress, and author Brooke Shieldswill deliver the keynote address at the 2023 Trailblazer Awards Luncheon at the Hilton Anatole on October 10 (note the date change - it's no longer September 29). The annual fundraiser benefits The Family Place, Texas’ largest family violence service agency marking its 45th year. Lindsay Jacaman and Holly Krug will serve as luncheon co-chairs, with philanthropists and former Real Housewives of Dallas stars Stephanie and Travis Hollman as honorary chairs. The event will include a VIP reception, seated luncheon, and recognition of this year’s Texas Trailblazer Award recipient, Mary Kay Inc. CEO Ryan Rogers. The Family Place also will honor Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia and State Representative Victoria Neave Criado with the Legislative Impact Award. Tickets start at $350, available on The Family Place's website.

Cattle Baron's Ball, October 14
Dallas' ultimate Western-glitz party celebrates its landmark 50th year with one of the biggest headliners yet - Shania Twain. Co-chairs Isabell Novakov Higginbotham and Andrea Cheek have picked the theme “Iconic” for the American Cancer Society's 50th anniversary fundraiser. It's headed back to Southfork Ranch for the second year in a row, for a night of boots, bling, barbecue, beer, and bidding in the biggest luxury auction of the year. Texas country-rock giant Randy Rogers Band will open the night at the VIP Party. Cattle Baron's Ball is the largest single-night fundraiser in the nation for cancer research through the American Cancer Society. Information and a wait-list for tickets can be found here.

SPCA Fur Ball, October 20
A gala for true party animals, the annual black-tie ball raises important funds for SPCA of Texas' mission to provide every animal with exceptional care and a loving home. Plus, it's the only local formal event where guests include furry, four-legged friends. Human attendees will enjoy dinner, dancing, entertainment, Pony Up for Paws, and live and silent auctions. Taking place at a new location this year - The Factory at Deep Ellum - the 2023 gala is chaired by Christie and Elbert Choi, with an assist from honorary chair Jack D. Knox. Tickets (from $400) are available here.

Two x Two Gala, October 21
Stars from the worlds of art, fashion, and philanthropy annually gather for an invitation-only gala and art auction that raises jaw-dropping sums for amfAR and the Dallas Museum of Art (more than $113 million to date). Hosted by Cindy and Howard Rachofsky and Lisa and John Runyon at Rachofsky House, this year's black-tie gala will honor artist Maria Berrio. The black-tie gala dinner will feature a live and silent auction of significant contemporary art, as well as the presentation of amfAR’s 2023 Award of Excellence for Artistic Contributions to the Fight Against AIDS. In a new twist, there's no "First Look" party this year - just the gala. While these invitations are among the hardest-to-get in town, the public can view the art auction catalogue online.

FGI Night of Stars, November 10
Hundreds of Dallas’ most stylish will descend on the Ritz-Carlton hotel for Fashion Group International of Dallas’ haute black-tie gala and runway show, which will raise funds for scholarships for aspiring fashion professionals. This year's chairs are Holly Quartaro and Cristina Graham, and honorary chair is New York Fashion Week creatorFern Mallis. Designer-to-the-starsChristian Siriano is the Achievement in Fashion honoree, legendary model Bethann Hardison is the Lifetime Legacy honoree, artist Ashley Longshore is the Exuberance in Art honoree, and Nina Garcia of Elle Magazine and Project Runway is the Excellence in Media honoree. For more information and tickets, visit the website.

Perot Night at the Museum, November 11
Still basking in the glow of last year's blockbuster 10th anniversary gala headed up by VIP couple Dirk and Jessica Nowitzki, the 2023 edition promises to be just as show-stopping. The annual gala is one of the most fun and interactive fundraising evenings all season, with action taking place on all floors of the Perot Museum. This year's chairs, Catalina Gonzalez and Santiago Jorba and Elizabeth and Kevin Phillips, have planned food and drinks inspired by the museum's exhibits, hands-on experiments, live music, and more. All proceeds go toward the museum's initiatives to provide scholarships and financial assistance to schools and families. More information and tickets to come, but underwriting opportunities are here.

AT&T Performing Arts Center Bravo! Gala, November 18
Always an ovation-worthy evening, the fundraising celebration in support of the AT&T Performing Arts Center will feature a seated dinner on the Shannon and Ted Skokos Stage of the Winspear Opera House, followed by a performance by the hit indie/alternative band Lake Street Dive. The evening will start with a progressive cocktail hour that uses multi-level lobby spaces for performances by members of the Center's five resident companies. Co-chairs for the gala are Diane Brierley and Ellen Winspear. The night will honor The Moody Foundation, a historic and philanthropic giant in Dallas arts. Information and tickets (from $1,200) are here.

Crystal Charity Ball, December 9
The grand finale to Dallas gala season has the artful theme of "Masterpieces in the Making." It's a double entendre, explains ball chair Angie Kadesky. "While classic artistic masterpieces will be the decorative motif at the ball, the real masterpieces in the making are the children we serve," she says. Specifically this year, the seven local charities chosen as Crystal Charity Ball beneficiaries are: After School All Stars, Buckner Children Family Services, Fair Park First, Family Gateway, Metrocare Services, Salvation Army of North Texas, and YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas. As always, the glamorous black-tie evening will take shape in the Chantilly Ballroom at the Hilton Anatole. Tickets are invitation-only; inquire about underwriting and more opportunities to participate here.

Perot Museum Night at the Museum Gala 2022
Photo by Tamytha Cameron

Woody Abbott, Meredith Abbott, Katie Samler, and Matt Samler at the Perot's Night at the Museum.

Also time to RSVP for:

Photo courtesy of Ballet North Texas

Ballet North Texas presents NEXT + Gala

Ballet North Texas’ sixth season starts with the NEXT + Gala, a celebration that pays tribute to their dancers, the community, and their commitment to the arts. The audience will be among the first to witness three groundbreaking performances, choreographed by local artists, that demonstrate Ballet North Texas' adaptability, power, and technical excellence. The evening will also include a dinner where guests can raise a toast to all those who have played a vital role in propelling Ballet North Texas forward.

Photo by Tamytha Cameron and Nate Rehlander

Hot-to-trot Dallasites raise more than $550K for Equest at 2023 Blue Ribbon Ball

Boots & big bucks

What: 2023 Equest Blue Ribbon Ball

Equest Blue Ribbon Ball 2023

Photo by Tamytha Cameron and Nate Rehlander

Maggie Kipp, Eric Stephenson

Where: Al Hill, Jr. Arena at Texas Horse Park

The 411: A brief rain shower didn't dampen spirits at Equest's outdoor gala - in fact, it was welcome respite on a June night.

More than 550 patrons gathered for the annual boots-and-jeans fundraising ball, headed by co-chairs Lindsay Ballotta and Jenny Merkle, with honorary chairs Kristina and Phil Whitcomb and Equest board co-chairs Lisa Loy Laughlin and Clint Haggerty.

After grabbing a glass of bubbly from the champagne wall, attendees made their way into the horse arena for a cocktail reception, featuring a signature drink made with Mejinta Tequila and Pendery’s spices.

AVSD Productions provided a groovy virtual reality experience that let guests feel like they were riding a Kentucky Derby horse or learning to fly. Nearby, pianists Nick Luby and Susan Zhang entertained with a performance on the popular Dallas Symphony Orchestra Concert Truck.

Emcee Jody Dean welcomed guests as they sat down to a multicourse meal and heard from Equest’s new CEO, Myrshem George. Dallas City Council member Jaime Resendez presented the 2023 Citation Award to Nancy and Ron Natinsky, and Equest co-founder Susan Schwartz presented the special Founder’s Award to Lili Kellogg, who recently retired after a 28-year tenure.

After a special performance by dancers from Arthur Murray, keynote speaker Clint Bruce, co-founder of Carry the Load, talked of the challenges veterans face when they come home after serving and underscored the importance of programs that Equest provides.

A spirited live auction conducted by Louis Murad helped to push the evening's fundraising total past $550,000. To celebrate, patrons hit the dance floor and moved and grooved to the sounds of party band Limelight.

The Blue Ribbon Ball raises funds for equine-assisted therapies and other services provided by Equest; for more information, visit the nonprofit's website.

Who: Maggie Kipp, Eric Stephenson, Payne Wingate, Kelly Wingate, Finley Konrade, Eric Konrade, Angie Denton, Hillary Lynch, Audra Hopper, Jessica Barnett, Adam Steggers, Rebecca Steggers, Ashlyn Hayworth, Ava Staton, Georgia Phillips, Carolyn Anderson, Meredith McKay, Julie Bagley, Michelle Scotter, Brooke Bailey, Sara Rockey, Elizabeth Dacus, Lucy and John Bannon, Thomas Laughlin, Caitlin Laughlin, Julie Gonzalez, John Gonzalez, Greg Cooper, Christina Heddesheimer, Wade Betz, Becca Betz, Elsa Norwood, Angie Kadesky, Jim Kenny, Janelle Kenny, Paul Divis, Tiffany Divis, Colin Mathews, Karly Kilroy, Nellie Kuh, Bianca Moore, Ryan Casey, Kelly Casey, Carol Burnside, Kathleen Delamore, Scott Delamore, and hundreds more patrons and guests.

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2 Dallas universities rank among top 10 in Texas for 2024 by U.S. News

Top Texas schools

Two Dallas universities have achieved high rankings for their high-quality educational experiences this year: Southern Methodist University and The University of Texas at Dallas both have earned top-10 spots on U.S. News and World Report's just-released list of the Best Colleges in Texas for 2024.

SMU claimed the No. 4 spot in Texas, and ranked No. 89 nationally. The private institution had an undergraduate enrollment of more than 7,000 students in fall 2022. The school, which costs $64,460 in tuition and fees each year, ranks No. 121 for "Best Value Schools" by U.S. News.

In April, SMU's Cox School of Business ranked No. 4 in U.S. News' ranking of the best graduate programs in Texas. SMU business graduates additionally make the third-highest earnings in the nation within the four years after their graduation.

SMU actually fared one spot better in U.S. News' list of top Texas schools than it did in another recent report, in which it ranked No. 5 statewide.

U.S. News' profile of SMU says the university finds pride in its rich campus culture that encourages students to participate in different organizations and activities.

"Students can check out the Dallas International Film Festival, which draws 40,000 viewers annually, or explore the more than 400 parks in the city," the site says. "About 2,000 students are involved in SMU Greek life, and all students can participate in annual events such as the Festival of Lights, a candlelit assembly on the school’s Main Quad each December, and the Mane Event, a celebration of spring complete with bands and food."

SMU's cross-Metroplex rival, Texas Christian University, ranked No. 6 in Texas and No. 98 nationally.

Just behind TCU, Richardson's UTD placed No. 7 in the Texas rankings, and No. 115 nationally. With a total undergraduate enrollment of over 21,600 students in fall 2022, the university values itself as a top-tier research institution.

"The Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship utilizes world-class, academic education, industry-leading experiential training, venture mentorship and advisory support to support the launch of new businesses," the UT Dallas website says.

In fact, the U.S. Department of Defense recently announced it will work alongside UT Dallas to develop a $30 million energy storage systems campus in a new initiative to improve battery technology.

"The project will accelerate transition and scaling of next generation batteries, while reducing dependence on scarce critical materials," the release said.

UTD ranked No. 14 in the recent Niche list of best Texas colleges.

U.S. News' top 10 best colleges in Texas in 2024 are:

  • No. 1 – Rice University, Houston
  • No. 2 – University of Texas at Austin
  • No. 3 – Texas A&M University, College Station
  • No. 4 – Southern Methodist University, Dallas
  • No. 5 – Baylor University, Waco
  • No. 6 – Texas Christian University, Fort Worth
  • No. 7 – The University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson
  • No. 8 – University of Houston
  • No. 9 – Texas Tech University, Lubbock
  • No. 10 – University of St. Thomas, Houston

The full rankings can be found on usnews.com.

Fun Japanese dollar store Daiso tees up 4 new Dallas-area locations

Shopping News

Japanese dollar store Daiso, the global retail chain offering items at throwaway low prices, is opening a new round of stores in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in the coming months, including Dallas, Garland, Richardson, and Watauga.

Watagua comes online first: Located at Watauga Towne Crossing, the store will open September 30 with a grand opening that will last all weekend long.

Other stores coming to the DFW area include:

  • Richardson, at 1310 W. Campbell Rd.
  • Dallas, at the Shops at Park Lane
  • Garland - Shiloh Springs Shopping Center at 6850 N. Shiloh Rd.

Daiso was founded in Japan in 1977 and carries thousands of products: kitchenware, beauty supplies, stationery, wrapping paper, electronic accessories, greeting cards, party favors, and plushie toys, plus exotic-ish snacks such as wasabi peanuts.

Probably 90 percent of what they sell is disposable plastic trinkets, and there's lots of pink. Most items are under $10.

Our 2017 shopper guide suggested the following:

"They have clamps and clips in different sizes, if you need them for opened bags of chips or if you want to string something up from the ceiling. My kids like mechanical pencils, and they have them in varying softness of leads. If you went to Staples, you might pay $5. So I stock up on office supplies, papers, ceramic cups, plastic containers, and sticky notes.

They have good candy, including soft jellies in unusual flavors like tomato and regular flavors like mango or strawberry. They sell my favorite candy of all time, a candy version of this Japanese soda called Ramune. The candy is soft and chalky, and melts in your mouth."

They first debuted in DFW in 2015 with a store in Carrollton, and have since opened locations in Irving, Plano, Frisco, Euless, Grapevine, Fort Worth, Arlington, and Dallas at Mockingbird Commons.

Daiso Chief Development Officer John Clarke says, "Texas based Daiso customers have shown us through our online business and social media their desire for us to have more stores within the state, influencing our immediate growth strategy in this region. We currently operate 104 units in 7 states with more states opening in 2024."

Gamestop stock saga gets fun, star-filled movie treatment with Dumb Money

The stock market feels like one of those aspects of American life that only a select few truly understand. The rest of us acknowledge it as something that exists and affects our lives in some way, but how and why any particular stock is traded and becomes more (or less) valuable can be a complete mystery.

Dumb Money tackles one of the most interesting recent stories to come out of the stock market, the surprising inflation of Gamestop stock in late 2020/early 2021. The film bounces around to a variety of characters, but centers mostly on Keith Gill (Paul Dano), a YouTuber who went by the name of Roaring Kitty. Gill, an amateur stock trader, took an early position about liking the lightly-regarded Gamestop stock, regularly posting videos and on the Reddit thread WallStreetBets about how his significant investment in the stock was doing.

Concurrently, hedge fund managers like Gabe Plotkin (Seth Rogen) were actively trying to short, or bet against, the stock. That began a battle by Gill and other similarly-minded individual investors to fight back against what they saw as unfair trading practices by the big firms, resulting in Gamestop’s stock rising astronomically in a relatively short period of time.

Directed by Craig Gillespie (I, Tonya) and written by Lauren Schuker Blum and Rebecca Angelo, the film is notable for what it is not, a deep dive into the inner workings of the stock market. Instead of getting into the nitty gritty details, the filmmakers treat it as the ultimate David vs. Goliath story, with Gill and other everyday people like a nurse, Jenny (America Ferrera), Gamestop worker Marcus (Anthony Ramos), and college student Harmony (Talia Ryder) going up against billionaires like Plotkin, Steve Cohen (Vincent D’Onofrio), Ken Griffin (Nick Offerman), and Vlad Tenev (Sebastian Stan).

Paul Dano in Dumb Money

Photo by Claire Folger/Sony Pictures

Paul Dano in Dumb Money.

It doesn’t hurt that Gill is an eccentric character who wears cat-emblazoned shirts and a headband, and that the Reddit community he inspires communicates primarily in memes, upping the entertainment factor of their side immensely. The story is also a suspense in a way; as the variety of individuals drive the stock ever higher, their net worth – on paper – also grows exponentially, and the longer each of them holds on without selling ups the potential that they could be burned.

Because the real-life event happened during the thick of the pandemic when it was still up in the air as to the full impact of COVID-19, the story takes on a little more significance. Characters mask up regularly, conversations take place on the phone or over Zoom, and a general feeling of unease permeates the film. That may or may not have influenced how certain people approached the situation, but in the context of the film, it definitely seems to play a part.

The back-and-forth between the haves and have-nots takes up so much time in the film that it barely has time for such well-known actors as Shailene Woodley, Dane Dehaan, Olivia Thirlby, and Pete Davidson, among others. Each of them plays a supporting character to one of the main people, and all of them deliver that little something extra in what could have been throwaway roles.

Dano is a chameleonic actor who’s gone between drama and comedy with ease throughout his career. This role is a mixture of both, and he has an effortlessness about him that makes everything he says instantly believable. Rogen is great casting as Plotkin, amiably playing the buffoon of the story. After her big role in Barbie, Ferrera once again shows that she deserves as many showcases as Hollywood can give her.

Storytellers can rarely go wrong in showing people with little power taking on those with great wealth, and the fact that the story shown in Dumb Money is (mostly) true makes it that much better. You may not understand the stock market any more than you already did at the end, but you’ll be so entertained that it won’t matter.


Dumb Money opens in theaters on September 22.