'GameStop: Rise of the Players' review: Stock doc worth the investment

A smart, fun look at how GameStop's stock made a small group of people very rich during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic

A potentially hard-to-grasp rise of the little guy tale is told in a digestible, easy to understand fashion in "GameStop: Rise of the Players," a highly entertaining documentary about the improbable surge of video game retailer GameStop's stock during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

A scene from "GameStop: Rise of the Players."

You don't need to own a PS5 or understand the intricacies of hedge funds or short squeezes to get in on the ground floor of this doc by Jonah Tulis, who is well acquainted with the video game world (he made 2020's "Console Wars" documentary). He introduces the players and establishes the stakes and shows how a small crew made a lot of money (and caused a big crew to lose even more money) by simply following the market and putting their money where their mouth was.  

It's the pandemic and a lot of people are at home, bored. While some baked banana bread to pass the time — a perfectly acceptable use of one's day that yields instant (and delicious!) results, it should be noted — others played the stock market, and eyed the floundering stock price of everybody's least favorite video game hut, GameStop. 

With more and more of the video game business turning to online sales, some viewed GameStop as Blockbuster Video all over again, a retail funeral waiting to happen. But a few online analysts and amateur day traders saw the potential in the stock, bet big and — through a confluence of circumstances, including growing resentment toward Wall Street super investors — came out shining.  

Filmmaker Tulis communicates like the online community he chronicles does, through gifs, memes, "Family Guy" clips and internet shorthand, using the terms and slang ("diamond hands," "tendies") his players do. As GameStop's stock prices begin to soar, the thrill of success (and the agony of defeat for the hedge funders who short sold the stock) is tangible, and practically comes through the screen. 

I checked my stock portfolio after the movie just to see if it had grown, and it had not. But it doesn't take a financial genius to recognize "GameStop: Rise of the Players" is a winner. Diamond hands all the way. 



'GameStop: Rise of the Players'


Not rated: language

Running time: 93 minutes 

In theaters