Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Film 26: The Informant!

The Informant! and Food Inc.

"The Informant!" is an adaptation of Kurt Eichenwald's expose on a most curious price-fixing scandal on account of the fact that the whistle blower was an unideal candidate for the FBI to work with because he was pretty much nuts.

Everything is pretty much up in the air here. Mark Whitacre (played by Matt Damon), a top executive at a food enrichment products company, might be tipping off the CIA to an enormous price-fixing scandal to cover up for a smaller lie he made up, because his wife is nagging him to, because amid all the racing thoughts in his head (this is one of the main motifs of the film as that internal monologue is done by Matt Damon in voice over) he just hasn't thought it through, or because he sees it as some convoluted master plan to get a big raise and take over management. Stephen Soderbergh, one of the premiere directors of the decade, is a master of experimentation and here he is experimenting with story to a great degree: The story is constantly in flux because the plot is driven by what's going on in the protagonist's head, and the the viewer is never entirely sure what is going on there.

That being said, sometimes the movie comes off as cleverer than it thinks it is, expecting the viewer to jump on board every twist that comes aboard every 3 minutes. The score comes off as a little desperate. It reminds me of how hard the film is trying to market itself as a comedy when it's really nothing of the sort.

The cast is also the most curious thing I've ever seen in my life. I would imagine that the kind of supporting roles needed for this movie would have gone to character actors like Alec Baldwin, Tom Wilkinson, Brian Cox, and Chris Cooper.

Never in a million years if I were to make a movie about a price fixing scandal at an industrial company would I have thought: Joel McHale from the Soup (he hadn't yet done Community) or Scott Bakula from Quantum Leap/Star Trek with more minor roles going to Arrested Development's Tony Hale, 30 Rock's Scott Adsit, Best Week Ever's Paul Thompkins, and Back to the Future's Thomas Wilson.

I don't think I mind because these guys are all just as serviceable as the serious choices. I mean, it makes sense, Scott Bakula is a trained actor and probably needs a job, I'm just surprised.

More power to Stephen Soderbergh, I guess, he probably saved a lot of money.

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