The Too Big to Fail (2011) Drinking Game You Never Knew You Needed


I have a confession to make: I have a thing for political thrillers.

I know what you’re thinking – who cares, right? Political thrillers feel like a genre from a bygone era. The type of movies that your parents (or your grandparents) would be into, not like, a hip millennial (i.e. me).

But it’s true. I’ve been addicted to political thrillers since I was finally old enough to understand Watergate. I love a good intrigue and a political one is even better. Watching corruption be unravelled by heroic do-gooders really gets me off. I love seeing corrupt assholes get what’s coming to them – it gives me the type of high that, normally, only drugs can provide. It also gives me a false sense of happiness and lulls me to sleep on the ideal that Truth and Justice will always prevail.

If you’re aware of the world, I’m sure it’s no surprise to you that the current political climate is ruining this whole political-thriller-escapist-fantasy thing I have going. Before these past few years I assumed that the inner workings of government were sacrosanct – that reasonable people with overall good intentions would Do The Right Thing when it counted.


How stupid was I, right?! It’s still too early to get thrillers about all the fucked up shit we’re dealing with these days, so in order to get some release from the exhausting 24/7 shitshow that is politics, I had to go back in time to a point that I assumed was rock bottom, politically – the 2008 financial crisis.

Remember when we averted a global economic disaster and thought things were going to change for the better? LOL. Good times.

I’ve already watched Inside Job and Margin Call, so I know that while the corruption was revealed nothing was really done to change anything. Minor regulations were enacted and organizations were created to try and ensure that financial companies didn’t swindle consumers, but those are already being undermined thanks to the troop of MAGA idiots that have infiltrated the White House. That’s why Too Big To Fail is both amazing as a political thriller, but also bullshit when it comes to what actually happened.

Curtis Hanson, most known for L.A. Confidential, directs the film and it definitely has the markers of a good thriller – scheming, conspiracies, intense music, more intense conversations, rampant corruption, power struggles – but it also assigns a kind of banal morality to people who I’m not sure deserve it.

I re-watched Inside Job shortly after seeing this movie and William Hurt’s Hank Paulson doesn’t come off as nicely in reality as he does in the movie. I get that it’s a movie, but let’s also be honest about what this whole thing really was: a bunch of rich white guys trying to get richer on the backs of everyone less fortunate than them and then shitting in their faces by blocking effective government regulation on the practices that disenfranchised countless amounts of people. This financial crisis ruined people’s lives. So to have anyone who came from the banking industry act like they have a deep sense of ethics and morality is laughable, especially considering where we are now.

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The issues I have with Too Big to Fail have nothing to do with how it’s made – it’s a great film with excellent pacing that will keep you at the edge of your seat even though you know how it all ends. The issue I have has to do with the way the world is today. We are staring in the face of blatant corruption by government officials using their position of public service to enrich themselves. And we’re still fighting for wage equality to counteract the decimation to the middle and lower classes that the fuck heads on Wall Street caused and the government allowed to happen. It’s not changing any time soon (unless we all vote NDP).

But friends, I have your back! In order to deal with all this shit, I’ve created a drinking game so you can have fun with your friends and numb yourselves to the fact that we have no retirement funds, no insurance, no long term employment options and will likely have to work until we die because corporations don’t want to pay their fair share. Oh and also the fact that we’re on the brink of another recession that will be worse than the last. But also because the tropes and clichés inherent in political movies are really funny.

Welcome, comrades! Shall we begin?

Take One Drink:

  • Every time the opening credit music fills you with dread and impending doom
  • Whenever William Hurt gazes pensively out a window
  • Whenever a character has their jacket off and shirt sleeves rolled up like they’re getting down to business
  • When a rich person flaunts their wealth
  • Every time William Hurt says that a government bail out is not an option with no hint of irony
  • When the government puts up a front about “ethics”
    • But also when the government forgets about ethics and throws protocol out the window
  • For every real-life news clips about the impending financial disaster
  • For every reference to Goldman Sachs
  • For every boardroom meeting scene
  • When Government officials figure out how to spin things
    • And whenever they bitch about the media
    • But also when they love their own media coverage
  • Someone makes fun of a Democrat and/or blames a Democrat for something
    • But take two drinks when someone roasts a Republican
  • When someone looks grave after “looking at the numbers”
  • Whenever James Woods acts like an asshole
  • Any time anyone calls someone “patriotic” or a “Good American”
  • Every time Billy Crudup looks like he’s going to throw up
  • Every time Paul Giamatti looks like he’s going to throw up
    • But take a shot when someone actually throws up

Take Two Drinks:

  • Any time anyone slams the phone down or hangs up on someone
  • Whenever someone uses a cell phone to talk shop
  • When someone barges into someone else’s office
  • Any time the Constitution is brought up
  • When someone brings up an solution involving regulation
    • But also whenever they shoot it down because no one will go for regulation
    • And also whenever a Republican shits on government regulation
    • And again every time someone talks about Republicans not liking regulation (they bring it up a lot, trust me)
  • Whenever Billy Crudup tells William Hurt that things are “bad” and/or “really bad”
  • When Paul Giamatti is framed as the only person with moral conviction
  • Any time the Americans talk shit about the British
  • Every time the treasury team attempts damage control
  • Any time someone mentions something shady the Russian government is up to (foreshadowing?!)

Take a Shot:

  • Whenever one of the financial guys fucks up a deal
  • Every time a new financial company says they’re also in trouble
  • When the films fakes out that the market is stabilizing

Chug! Chug! Chug!:

  • Every time the economic crisis is explained
  • During every hallway-walking-with-a-purpose scene – keep chugging until they stop walking or enter a room
  • Whenever people start yelling at each other over the phone
  • For the length of any speech about the Great Depression
  • During market crash sequences that reflect your hopes and dreams being pissed down the drain by people who had too much money, too much cocaine and too much power

I haven’t tried this myself, but given the amount of drinks you’re going to take, I can assure you that you will be too blitzed to remember how bad everything is – YOLO!