I admit it. I hate shopping. I hate the stress, crowds, overspending, forced smiles, drunken caroling and crappy weather that comes with the Holidays. But I do enjoy one tradition this time of year–advance screenings of major motion pictures that come straight to our doorstep courtesy of my wife’s membership in the Directors Guild of America.
It’s been mostly duds this season, but last night we took a chance on Molly’s Game and it will be worth standing in line for this one when it opens Christmas day. Many of you are skiers, poker players and closet math nerds, so add this flick to your must-see list. You might also recommend it to your risk-seeking clients.
The film is based on the true story of Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain), a highly attractive and intelligent washed-up Olympic-class skier who ran the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game in the 2000s. She had a great decade-long run before getting beat up by the mob, addicted to drugs and ultimately taken down by gun-toting FBI agents.
Starting out just to pay the rent, Molly was soon making seven figures hosting private poker games that catered to Hollywood royalty, sports stars, business titans and finally, unbeknownst to her, the Russian mob. Great story, but the best part is that she ran her “game” as a legal, tax-paying corporate entity, complete with legitimate books, tax returns, a “no raking” policy and 1099s forms sent to her “staff.”
Not to be spoiler, but Aaron Sorkin’s film not only touches on risk management and securities law, but on most of the advanced planning principles you preach to clients including wealth enhancement, tax mitigation, wealth protection, wealth transfer, legacy planning and business succession.
Many of the financial issues in Molly’s Game are as realistic as the ski scenes, poker hands and bluffing strategies. Molly also takes down her abusive boss and dozens of extremely rich and powerful men in the process as she goes from a middle class upbringing, to poverty, to riches to rags again, as so many American entrepreneurs do.
If you or your significant other are Kevin Costner fans, you’ll enjoy seeing him excel in a NON-nice guy role for a change. He plays Molly’s demanding, often estranged father who gave her drive, smarts and ambition, plus enough emotional baggage to fill at least two luxury hotel luggage carts.
I don’t know if STX Entertainment had this much foresight, but Molly’s Game ties in seamlessly to the perfect storm of complex tax issues, Winter Olympics promos and powerful men being taking down daily in the headlines. It’s not exactly Bing Crosby, but it’s a timely encapsulation of the times we live in—and poignant exploration of how each of us comes to terms with fear, greed and our relationship with money.
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