FreakonomicsFeature Film |
A well-meaning, but underdeveloped, attempt to explain real-world phenomena.
Comprised of segments directed by six renowned documentary filmmakers, Freakonomics blends animation, interviews, and a glib pop-psychology tone in a well-intentioned, but scattershot, attempt to find the causes behind real-world issues such as crime, corruption, and success. Lighthearted interviews with economist Steven Levitt and journalist Stephen Dubner, authors of the bestselling book that inspired the movie, provide necessary context at the beginning and end, but it's the mini-films in between that are a hit-or-miss mix of the serious and the sensible. Morgan Spurlock's section on baby names, "A Roshanda by Any Other Name," suffers from overly clever, whimisical graphics and a gimmicky tone that feels even more jarring when followed by "Pure Corruption," a too-long, monochromatic meditation on sumo wrestling and the hypocrisy of those who cheat within it. The controversial "It's Not Always a Wonderful Life" offers a surprising, if inconclusive, theory as to why abortion may have caused the sudden crime drop of the 1990s, and the closing segment, "Can a Ninth Grader Be Bribed to Succeed?," ends on a similarly gray note. What the film ultimately offers is not answers to the questions it has raised, but a much-needed dose of inquisitiveness and an ability to look at complex problems from an unconventional point of view.