It took me nearly six months but I finally had a chance to watch The Big Short, the film based on the best-selling book by Michael Lewis that came out in late December 2015. The film, which was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and which won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, is about a small group of traders who foresaw and profited massively on the collapse of the housing and subprime credit market in 2007-08.
As I discussed here, The Big Short is written and directed by Adam McKay, who co-wrote Anchorman, Talladega Nights, and The Other Guys with Will Ferrell. In addition to being very funny, The Other Guys is one of the few movies I know of that features SEC investigators -- and the subject of securities fraud -- as part of the plot. McKay said that his work on The Other Guys led him to be "obsessed with the subject" of the financial crisis.
As in The Other Guys, the SEC does not receive favorable treatment in The Big Short. In the brief segment of the film featuring the SEC, a trader named Jamie Shipley tracks down his brother’s ex-girlfriend, Evie, who works at the SEC, to ask whether the SEC has any concerns about mortgage bonds. Jamie and Evie (above) are seated poolside at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, where they are both attending the annual American Securitization Forum:
EVIE: Oh we don’t investigate mortgage bonds. Truth is since we had our budget cut we don’t investigate much.
JAMIE: Really? Then why are you here? I thought—
EVIE: I’m not here for the SEC. I’m here on my own dime. (she leans in) I’m floating my resume to some big banks. How’s your brother by the way?
JAMIE: He’s good. (back to business) How are you floating your resume to big banks when you’re supposed to be the ones policing them?
EVIE: Grow up Jamie. 90% of the people at the SEC are just there to get better jobs. (she sees someone) Hey Doug! (then to Jamie) He’s at Goldman.
She gets up and leaves. The guy she’s approaching grabs her.
DOUG: Look everyone! It’s regulatory capture!
He pulls Evie and himself into the pool.
Ooooofffff. And that is the first and last we see of the SEC in The Big Short, with one exception. After the conference, we see attendees and others straggling out of Caesar's Palace -- including Evie and Doug from Goldman Sachs who are leaving together. As described in the screenplay, "they kiss and then he gets in a Range Rover and she gets in a cab."