Boiler Room

USA 2000

Reviewed by John Wrathall


Our synopses give away the plot in full, including surprise twists.

New York, the present. To the disgust of his father, a judge, 19-year-old Seth Davis has dropped out of college. On the recommendation of a friend, he goes for a job at J. T. Marlin, a fly-by-night brokerage firm run by the charismatic Michael. Seth is soon hooked on the thrill of the fast buck and impressed by his millionaire colleagues. He passes his stockbroker's exams and wins his father's grudging respect.

Seth starts to date the receptionist Abby, thereby earning the enmity of his team leader Greg, who's Abby's ex-boyfriend. When Seth discovers one of the medical companies whose stock he has been selling is just a shell, he realises that the whole operation is fraudulent and illegal.

When one of his clients, Harry Reynard, loses his life savings on stock Seth sold him, Seth appeals to his father for help, which he refuses to give. Arrested by the FBI, Seth is played a tape of a phone call in which he discussed a deal with his father. Rather than see his father's career ruined, Seth agrees to testify against J. T. Marlin. Just before the office is raided, Seth uses his sly sales skills to trick Michael into compensating Harry Reynard for the money he lost.


The writing and directing debut of 27-year-old Ben Younger, Boiler Room wears its influences very much on its sleeve. When Seth first goes for a job at J. T. Marlin, he and the other applicants are treated to an inspirational harangue from a recruiter who promises them they'll be millionaires in three years if they can stay the course. Moments later, as if atoning for the extent of his lift from a similar scene with Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross, Younger has one of his characters namecheck that film and its author, David Mamet. And before we can say Wall Street, Younger shows us the guys from J. T. Marlin sitting around at home watching a video of Oliver Stone's 1987 film, parroting Gordon Gekko's "Lunch is for wimps" speech word for word. Younger seems to be trying to convince us that it's his characters, rather than himself, who are imitating these films.

However great his debt to Mamet and Stone, Younger certainly succeeds in adding a few phrases of his own to the lexicon of macho sales talk, notably "Don't pitch the bitch," (a J. T. Marlin house rule forbids employees to sell stock to women because supposedly they'll always be calling back and making a fuss). But despite its wealth of relishable dialogue, Younger's script has problems in other departments. Whenever he strays away from self-contained set-piece scenes - Ben Affleck's harangues as the recruiter; a classic moment when Seth gets a call from a salesman flogging newspaper subscriptions and coaches him on his pitch - Younger falls back on cliché. Seth's paper-thin relationship with the receptionist Abby is just an excuse to whip up some rivalry with his boss Greg, while his yearning to win his father's respect depends on an astonishingly clunky piece of backstory involving the ten-year-old Seth and his new bike.

The awkward structure - opening at a not particularly significant moment half way through the story, then flashing back "three months earlier" - and a rambling voiceover don't help. Both devices seem like last-ditch attempts to inject momentum into the narrative and explain the bewildering financial small print of J. T. Marlin's scam. Or perhaps Younger just wanted to pay Scorsese homage while he was at it.

As director, Younger throws in a couple of montages of people driving around, ostentatiously edited to the hip hop score, but otherwise relies on fuzzily photographed dialogue scenes. He does extract some boisterous performances from his young cast, notably Vin Diesel as Seth's mentor Chris. But Giovanni Ribisi, such a promising supporting actor in Saving Private Ryan as a medic and Friends as Phoebe's dopey brother, doesn't seem a big enough presence for a starring role yet. His emotional breakdown in front of his father is plain embarrassing, and even his sales patter never seems quite slick enough. To convince us that Seth really is the dynamite salesman we need to believe he is, Younger has to fall back on another woeful cliché: the FBI agent listening in to Seth's phone calls and commenting, to no one in particular, "This kid is really good."


Ben Younger
Suzanne Todd
Jennifer Todd
Ben Younger
Director of Photography
Enrique Chediak
Chris Peppe
Production Designer
Anne Stuhler
Music/Music Arranger/
Music Producer/
Music Mixer
The Angel
©New Line Productions, Inc.
Production Companies
New Line Cinema presents a Team Todd production
Executive Producers
Claire Rudnick Polstein
Richard Brener
E. Bennett Walsh
Associate Producer
Pamela Post
Executive in Charge of Production
Carla Fry
Production Executive
Claire Best
Production Supervisor
Robin Nelson Sweet
Production Controller
Paul Prokop
Production Co-ordinators
Rita Parikh
Emily Glatter
Unit Production Manager
E. Bennett Walsh
Location Manager
Paul Kramer
Ric Keeley
Executive in Charge of:
Jody Levin
Assistant Directors
Julian Petrillo
Peter Leto
Eric W. Henriquez
Script Supervisor
Catherine Gore
John Papsidera
Wendy O'Brien
Camera Operator
Michael Green
Steadicam Operator
William S. Arnot
Art Directors
Roswell Hamrick
Mark White
Set Decorator
Jennifer Alex
Scenic Artist
Avery S. Brandon
Storyboard Artist
Aaron N. Feldman
Costume Designer
Julia Caston
Wardrobe Supervisors
Marcia Patten
Kevin Ritter
Key Make-up Artist
Caryn Brostoff
Key Hairstylist
Quentin Harris
Mary Cook
Charles McKenna
Dallas Hartnett
Featured Players
Katisse Buckingham
Luis Eric
Kerry Loeschen
Louis Russell
Bass Guitar:
Robert Russel
DJ Drez
Music Supervisor/ Music Executive
Dana Sano
Executive in Charge of Music
Toby Emmerich
Music Co-ordinator
Bob Bowen
Music Editor
Lisé Richardson
Music Consultant
Stretch Armstrong
"New York (Ya Out There)" by Rakim, contains a sample of "Down & Out in NYC" by James Brown; "Wild Style Dixie Battle" by Chief Rocker Busy Bee; "Area" by De La Soul; "Get On This" by Ugly Duckling; "Keepin' the Faith" by De La Soul, contains samples of "Just a Touch of Love", "Could You Be Loved"," "Sign of the Times"; "Ma Dukes" by Omar Gerryl Credle; "Award Tour" by Tribe Called Quest, contains a sample of "We Getting Down" by Weldon Irvine; "Funky Child" by Lords of the Underground, contains samples of "My Thankg", "Laker's Theme", "Mind Power", "Take Some Leave Some"; "Supa Star" by Group Home; "Segue to Work" by The Angel; "Anywayz" by Esthero; "Sunset Eyes" by Ernie Andrews; "Destiny Complete" by The Angel featuring Mystic; "You Don't" by Tricky; "Brand Nubian Rock the Set" by Brand Nubian; "Right Here" by Pharoahe Monch; "Impress the Kid" by Rick Walters; "What a Thug About" by Beannie Sigel; "Simon Says" by Pharoahe Monch; "Money or Love" by Saukrates; "That Ain't Gangsta" by .50 Cents; "Wait Gekko", "I Just Know" from "Wall Street"; "Things Done Changed"
Sound Mixer
Peter Schneider
Re-recording Mixers
John Ross
Joe Barnett
Dorian Cheah
Supervising Sound Editor
Frank Gaeta
Dialogue Editors
Michael Hertlein
Robert C. Jackson
David Grant
Robert Getty
Sound Effects Editors
Benjamin Cook
Roland Thai
Thomas Jones
Alan Freedman
S. Diane Marshall
David Lee Fein
Mary Erstad
Lucy Sustar
Backgrounds Editor
Michael Mullane
Stunt Co-ordinator
Mike Russo
Film Extract
Wall Street (1987)
Giovanni Ribisi
Seth Davis
Vin Diesel
Nia Long
Abby Halperin
Nicky Katt
Greg Feinstein
Scott Caan
Ron Rifkin
Marty Davis, Seth's father
Jamie Kennedy
Taylor Nichols
Harry Reynard
Bill Sage
Agent Drew
Tom Everett Scott
Ben Affleck
Jim Young
John Griesemer
David Younger
Russell Harper
Mark Webber
Christopher Fitzgerald
Donna Mitchell
Seth's mother
André Vippolis
Jon Abrahams
Will McCormack
Mike the casino patron
Jared Ryan
Casino Steve
Anson Mount
Kirk Acevedo
Seth Ullian
Eddie Malavarca
Carlo Vogel
rude kid
Matthew Saldivar
series seven kid
Serge Skliarenko
Croatian broker
Lisa Gerstein
Ross Ryman
Marjorie Johnson
Abby's mother
Peter Rini
Raymond Pirkle
Joe Pretlow
JP brokers
Peter Maloney
Doctor Jacobs
Lori Yoffe
Alex Webb
FBI director
Gillian Sacco
waitress at Mickey's
Don J. Hewitt
Mark Moshe Bellows
John Fineman
Daniel Serafini-Sauli
Steve, broker
Lucinda Faraldo
trendy hostess
Neal Lerner
gay man
Taylor Patterson
Sara Reynard
Michael McCarthy
Max Reynard
Marsha Dietlein
Susan Reynard
Joseph Tudisco
Judy Del Guidice
office woman
Siobhan Fallon
Harry's supervisor
Entertainment Film Distributors Ltd
10,762 feet
119 minutes 35 seconds
SDDS/Dolby Digital/DTS
Colour by
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Last Updated: 20 Dec 2011