Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Informant! (Review)

     "The Informant!," starring Matt Damon and directed by Steven Soderbergh, is an odd, little comedy.  A lot of the humor comes from the (seemingly) non-squinter actions of Matt Damon's character, Mark Whitacre, a VP at food giant ADM, who turns FBI informant.  However, unlike the almost endless wave of gross out, mostly improvised, idiotic comedies that stain theater screens these days, (you know the ones, the ones that seem to rely solely on the non-squinter stupidity improvised by the comedians while filming) "The Informant!" is funny not because all of Whitacre's actions are completely unreal, and therefor, unexpected, but because Whitacre's actions are, in fact, based on actual fact, and there are very real reasons motivating him.  This, sadly, is also the downfall of "The Informant!"  Once we are through the first act, laughter gives way to cringing as we wonder how anyone can be that dumb, and once we are in the third act, we just feel sorry for Whitacre, his family, and everyone who ever had anything to do with him.  In the end, "The Informant!" leaves you feeling uncomfortable and wishing you hadn't gone through the trouble of going to the theater.  Soderbergh tries to take as much creative license as possible, but, in the end, the reality of the material is simply too depressing. 

     I do have to give Matt Damon credit for doing a great job playing, what turns out to be, a character you only end up feeling pity for, to Scott Bakula, who, likewise, does a great job as FBI Special Agent Brian Shepard, who ends up on the receiving end of Whitacre's problems, and to Steven Soderbergh who does his usual best directing, but, in the end, none of them could really overcome the source material, Mark Whitacre's actual life and actions.

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