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Film / Billionaire Boys Club

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Billionaire Boys Club is an American biographical crime drama film directed by James Cox and co-written with Captain Mauzner. The film is based on the real-life Billionaire Boys Club, who were active in Southern California during the 1980s. The film was released through video-on-demand and limited release in 2018, but was filmed in late 2015 to early 2016.

The film stars Ansel Elgort, Taron Egerton, Emma Roberts, Suki Waterhouse, Thomas Cocquerel, Ryan Rottman, Jeremy Irvine, Billie Lourd and Kevin Spacey. Rosanna Arquette, Cary Elwes and Judd Nelson additionally cameo.

The film follows a group of wealthy boys in 1980s Los Angeles, led by their fellow preppie friend Joe Hunt (Elgort), who come up with a plan to get-rich-quick with a Ponzi scheme. The plan ends badly for all involved when Hunt and friend Tim Pitt end up murdering investor and con-man, Ron Levin.

This film provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Deviation: The 1980s tv movie / miniseries based on the same events depicts Joe as the bloodthirsty ringleader and Dean as more on the spineless side. In this remake, Joe's interpreted as a nerdy, unassuming genius and Dean as a charismatic but deeply Manipulative Bastard.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Q and Dean's relationship. The girls who've known Dean longer are wary of his reputation as "Mean Dean," but the English outsider Q has no such problem. It's strongly implied that she's quite aware her boyfriend is far from a saint, but simply doesn't care.
    Q: [after performing a striptease for him] Have you been a good boy this year?
    Q: I find that hard to believe.
  • Ambiguous Innocence: Joe and Dean Invoke this with "the paradox philosophy," which in their hands essentially becomes a justification for every unsavory deed they do. It's never revealed whether Dean actually burned down the game room in third grade either.
  • Ambition Is Evil: BBC's unlawful spiral is more or less the result of Dean resenting his suburban origins. (To him, the "opposite" of rich is middle-class.) He brings out Joe's distaste for his own lack of wealth, and it goes to hell.
  • Based on a True Story: Although the plot twist of Dean turning out to be a major antagonist delves into conspiracy theory, Very Loosely Based on a True Story territory.
  • Bromantic Foil: Dean is the charming, manipulative, and much more dishonorable Foil to Joe's nerdy Nice Guy. To illustrate: Joe gets cold feet when he first tries to give his wealthier former schoolmates a sales pitch and was an outcast among them. On the other hand, Dean is clearly shown at various points (including his introduction) to have been popular and friends with the rich students already.
  • Everyone Loves Blondes: Pretty much all of the significant female Love Interests shown are white blondes.
  • Evil is Petty: Aside from being evil, Dean is supposedly also outright mean. Sydney believes he burned down a camp game room in third grade and blamed her cousin Jake for it, causing Jake to be sent home all summer, just so he could win the tennis championship. He offers to do some "old-fashioned explaining" to Izzy's Dad when he refuses to cooperate with one of their dubious plans (using a shovel). Prior, he initiates a discussion among the BBC about how much he'd love to torture Levin's pet dog, because he finds the mutt annoying.
    Joe's writing: KILL DOG
  • Downer Ending: In the end, Hunt is given the blame for murdering Ron, and is sentenced to life in prison without parole. This leaves all the memories the boys had to go to waste.
  • False Friend: Dean, a longtime friend and Joe's only friend growing up. Joe's trust in him does falter, but Dean always manipulates Joe into trusting him again, to the point that when Dean completely betrays him, Joe apparently never even saw it coming.
  • Freudian Excuse: Not that it excuses any of his actions, but it's left as a real possibility that Dean never actually burned down the game room and blamed Sydney's cousin in third grade. Nonetheless, his rich schoolmates slapped the nickname "Mean Dean" on him and it follows him into adulthood.
  • Functional Addict: Dean, although the audience is increasingly privy to the toll drug addiction takes on him.
  • Improbable Age: As Lampshaded by Joe, the ridiculously successful BBC business was started by young men of only 23 and 24 years old. The more experienced, older businesspeople own up to how it scares them. Of course, the BBC is fraudulent and nowhere near as successful as advertised by Joe and co.
  • Jerk Jock: Dean is a tennis pro who lives up to his reputation as a Jerkass. Even present in his Villainous Breakdown speech.
    Sydney: Joe could've been anything in the world, but you fucking ruined him!
    Dean: No, Joe was locker-fodder before he met me — a geek you never would've spread your fucking legs for.
  • Kick the Dog: An incredibly dark real life example, when Hunt plans to intimidate Levin by killing his dog. Hunt even literally wrote this down on his todo list against Levin.
  • Noble Male, Roguish Male: Downplayed, but is the general dynamic between Joe (Noble) and Dean (Roguish). Joe is himself very much a lying criminal, but is presented as the book-brilliant, incredibly timid, substantially less guileful protagonist who was victimized by a Toxic Friend Influence more than anything. Dean is the Toxic Friend Influence in question; although he isn't dumb, his smarts certainly differ from the scholarly Joe's. Dean is blatantly the athletic, "cooler," more socially adept Manipulative Bastard Foil to Joe.
  • One-Gender School: The titular Club consists of alumni from Harvard School for Boys.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Dean goes to a costume party as dressed as Nancy Reagan in one scene, and zero fuss is made about it. He's unmistakably a man even in costume. He also wears pink clothes at various points.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: In contrast to Q, Sydney hates Dean for his immorality and falls for Joe on the basis of her belief that he's a good man. When the BBC's crimes start to unravel, Sydney wails about how Joe was a good man corrupted.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: Dean to Joe, to felony-involving levels.
  • Troubled, but Cute: Dean summarizes it best himself. "I am the charming, handsome, lovely idiot that you cannot resist." Q certainly does fail to resist. Too bad he's the "irrecoverably deep into crime" sort of troubled.