The Informant! (2009)

The Informant! (2009) — One of those true story movies that keeps you in constant “what the fuck?” mode.  Plus using Wikipedia (the most half-assed research method known to man) I learned that it is all more-or-less true.  This movie has several great strengths.  The most prominent of which is Matt Damon.  His portrayal of Mark Whitacre is immersive and one of the most fully-realized losers in recent cinematic history.  I mean dear god.  The bullshit doesn’t stop with this guy.  Not even his hair is what it seems.  From 30 extra pounds, to the dorky mustache and awful rug, Damon goes all in.  One of the best running-gags of the movie is the voice over which serves not as narration but as frequent non-sequiters to illustrate Whitacre’s bizare thought process.  He can be in the middle of discussing price-fixing with the FBI and be thinking about polar bears.  That’s just the type of guy he is.  The supporting cast is also great but in a significantly less overt and showy way.  Melanie Lynsky is great as Whitacre’s wife.  Scott Bakula is appropriately understated as Whitacre’s FBI man contact.  Several comedians are cast in supporting roles like Joel McHale, Tom Papa, Dick Smothers, Tom Smothers, Tony Hale, and Patton Oswalt and reliable character actors like Tom “Biff” Wilson and Eddie Jemison fill out the rest.  While the roles are not written with overly comedic lines, they help convey the absurdity of the story.  McHale is great in a role that consists mainly of reacting to Matt Damon with incredulous disbelief.  Even more than the acting or the dialogue is the way the story unfolds (and “unfolds” really is the perfect word).  Director Steven Soderbergh keeps the audience in the dark about the depths of the scandal and the viewer only becomes aware of things gradually, which is pretty much how the FBI became aware of things.  The film offers a portrait of corporate scandal, bipolar disorder, and massive fraud, all things that Americans may have been hearing a bit too much about in recent years, but the movie makes it all hilarious (in a very dry way) and this movie is totally worth seeing for that).

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