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Thoughts on 'The Informant!' . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Monday, September 21, 2009

Worth Full-Price, Matinee or Rental: Matinee. This film, loosely based on a true story, is an enjoyable ride with many solid laughs even if I never felt like I was having quite as much fun as the filmmakers.

Will I Own It On DVD: No. It's worth watching one more time for Damon's performance, but that doesn't justify the cost of owning the DVD.

Overrall Grade: B-

1) 'The Informant!' is a different kind of corpoate whistle-blower saga. The exclamation point in the title should be a tip-off, and this project is tilted towards comedy versus the traditional dramatic arc of previous films such as 'The Insider,' which treads similar thematic ground. This absurdity is a refreshing take on the genre, and the choice allows for easy laughs throughout even as the situations in the film become increasily grim for the participants.

2) Director Steven Soderbargh ('Ocean's Eleven') delivers his mainstream directing style with this project instead of his thread-bare independent mannerisms when he toils in smaller films. I wasn't wild about the look of this movie, which takes place laregly under a soft glow of lightbulbs throughout the running time, and consequently, everyone seems a bit fuzzy and diluted. But the pacing of the film is top-notch as it moves along well even when working through many scenes dense with exposition.

3) Matt Damon makes this movie. This was a vanity-free project for him as the actor added 30 lbs, sports a porn-star mustache and tops it off with a buffoant haircut as the somewhat delusional biochemist working with the FBI as well as with his own agenda, a course which is constantly flip-flopping. Damon totally commits to his role and disappears inside a character which could have easily been played for cheap laughs, however, Damon finds the bizarrely realistic center where his corporate spy is coming from and delivers a much more robust performance for it. His interior monologues were the highlight of the movie for me.

4) The supporting cast is also uniformly excellent. It was especially fun to see Scott Bakula back onscreen as an FBI agent who develops a complicated relationship with Damon. Joel McHale (The Soup), Tony Hale (Arrested Development) and many others are equally good.

5) With its upbeat musical score and oddly compelling dorky whistle-blower at the center, 'The Informant!' accomplishes its goal of turing this familiar plot on its head. It's hard to believe any of this ever happened in real life, but the concept of truth drives most of the characters and the plot in this film which is made by Damon's most anti-Jason Bourne role to date.



  1. Heff Says:
  2. Couldn't they have just "latexed" a gut on him ? I don't think I'd "let myself go" like that when effect crews can do such a great job these days.

    Nice to see that Scott Bakula got a gig. What a Quantum Leap.

  3. JLee Says:
  4. I like Damon and look forward to seeing this one. It's good to see Joel McHale doing some more acting. I actually saw that show "Community" that he stars in last week and it was pretty good. (at least the first episode. lol)

  5. Heff - I actually was thinking the same thing about the gut. He's mostly in suits in the movie, so a little foam padding would have been just as good, although it would have been hard to make his face so jowly and soft that way. And I knew a 'Leap' pun was coming with Bakula. Ha.

    Jlee - You should check this one out. It's solidly entertaining though not hilarious by any means. I have 'Community' tivo'd as it's been getting pretty good buzz so far (not sure about ratings).

  6. TROLL Y2K Says:
  7. Won't be seeing it. Did they make felon Mark Whitacre out to be the good guy in the ADM scandal? Good but fat and goofy?

  8. Boxer Says:
  9. I'm all over this one - it's moved to the top of my list. I have a "date" with my MIL's 80 year old friend tomorrow night and I may suggest we see this. He loved the HANGOVER. Yay! That Scott Bakula is in it and same with Joel McHale. Good casting makes for good movies.

  10. Troll Y2K - You ought to see it if you remember the scandal well (I missed it completely). Why not? It's entertaining enough. As for Whitacre, he's hard to get a handle on in the movie as his motivations are murky (probably due to being bipolar), and he's far from a traditional hero. That probably didn't shed much light. Rent it sometime.

    Boxer - "Good casting makes for good movies." Amen. Very true. This would be a good choice for your MIL date, although to be warned, it's not nearly as funny as the 'Hangover' so prepare her accordingly. :) But Damon is really, really good.

  11. Gypsy Says:
  12. It's funny that you should mention this is a vanity free performance from Matt Damon. I have often noticed that when actors have to let themselves go for a role they seem to get into a totally different head space without all the ego and turn in the performance of their lives. One who immediately springs to mind from a looong time ago is Farrah Fawcett in The Burning Bed. Up to that point I thought she was mediocre at best.

    Btw....if you ever give up your current job, you'd make an outstanding movie reviewer and I can think of worst jobs can't you?

  13. Linda Says:
  14. I really enjoyed everything about this film. The story took me totally by surprise, it is so much more than they let on in the trailers. A nice surprise in the late summer schedule. Good review.

  15. Miss Ash Says:
  16. I think you should review Couples Resort when it comes out!

  17. kmwthay Says:
  18. I like this movie, but I thought it was odd and weird. Matt kept me with giggles throughout.

    Although, I thought "if this dude has one more random thought..."

    But all in all, I wish I'd waited for dvd, but still a good flick.

  19. Farzan Says:
  20. I really wanted to see this when I first saw the trailer. Than I saw the trailer again and It didn't seem as funny as I thought the first time. It has been getting solid reviews so I might watch it maybe next week if not than Blu Ray all the way.

  21. Gypsy - I think you're right on with that idea about dropping your ego and getting fully into a role, although I never saw Farrah in 'Bed.' And thanks on the reviews as I wrote reviews and was the Entertainment editor one summer for my college newspaper, so it's nice to try on that hat again.

    Linda - I liked it throughout, but only rarely loved it. No harm there as I'll take that every single time. I thought they all did a good job with the material.

    Miss Ash - I'm going to see that because I really like the cast even though I think the concept is pretty cheesy. And I want to see Bora Bora on film since I have yet to go there. I think it comes out in early/mid October.

    Kmwthay - It was definitely odd, and you didn't get that from the previews, at least not so much. But I thought Damon was excellent as the unhinged lead, and yeah, there is no real need to see this on the big screen as it wouldn't suffer to wait for the DVD release.

    Farzan - It's by no means hilarious, and I know what you mean by the misleading trailer as I think it was just an easier sell for their marketing team. You wouldn't miss much waiting for Blu Ray, but it's defitely a solid flick for a matinee sometime.


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