Published Mar 01, 2000Boiler Room is about scrappy young stock brokers with bad ethics and cutthroat selling tactics that they seem to have learned exclusively from the movies. They all slick their hair back like Gordon Gekko, and when they get together on weekends, they watch Wall Street and recite the dialogue line for line. Giovanni Ribisi plays a 19-year-old new recruit at a Long Island firm called J. T. Marlin (so named to sound like J. P. Morgan). He and a gaggle of fresh-faced neophytes get indoctrinated at a group interview conducted by a recruiter played by Ben Affleck (an oddly unauthoritative screen presence to cast as a badass motivational speaker). What I liked about Boiler Room was the idea that these kids were sort of playing at being stock brokers. They're 20-somethings who know they don't belong in this world of six figure trades and seven figure incomes, but they're going to scam their way to becoming millionaires and then get out before their parents call the cops. Unfortunately, the movie is also full of tiresome stock characters (the disapproving father, the morally questionable girlfriend) that make the proceedings seem banal. The minute an F.B.I. agent asks Seth to act as a whistle-blower, you start to realise that, just like his characters, writer-director Ben Younger has been spending his weekends memorising Wall Street.