Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A... different kind of comedy

The previews were funny. The early reviews were good. And the movie itself was… different.

Matt Damon stars as Mark Whitacre in the dark comedy The Informant! Damon gained nearly 30 pounds to play this role for no other purpose than to look more like a soft, settled company executive, which he did. As the VP of an agri-business giant, Whitacre is exposed to all kinds of illegal executive activity and has finally decided he’s had enough. He turns over his knowledge to FBI Agent Brian Shepherd, beautifully played by Scott Bakula, and the government decides to make Whitacre an informant in order to take the company down. Damon does a superb job of playing the overly brilliant goof, who causes his own twists and turns in the film. Every scene turns up new evidence and information, and the twists just keep on coming. While the audience is made to like Whitacre, he is definitely not what he seems, and that is part of his charm and a big part of the movies plot. The script, written by Scott Z. Burns, was based on the book by Kurt Eichenwald, and wasn’t supposed to be a comedy. It’s very dry, very dark in some places, and is only salvaged as humorous because of the massive amounts of comics who were cast in the film. Tom Smothers, Bob Zany, Tom Papa, Melanie Lynskey, Joel McHale, and Patton Oswalt are just the tip of the comic iceberg, and each delivers their own brand of sarcasm and wit that makes even the most serious line something that draws a snicker.

The movie gets off to a slow and somewhat confusing start, with Damon narrating about things that have nothing to do with his character or his actions. In the end you realize these are the thoughts going through Whitacre’s brain as they occur, but it takes a while to put that together. Unfortunately by the time the action really got moving and you realized the truth about Whitacre, there was only 10 minutes left in the film. And supposedly this movie is set in the early 90s, but the costumes and most set pieces suggest a late 70s flair, which confused me early on. All in all the movie is worth seeing, but I would definitely wait until it hits the second-run theaters so you can pay less and still be just as confused as the folks who saw it the first time around.

The Informant! is rated R for language and has a running time of 108 minutes. You can purchase The Informant! on DVD or The Informant! [Blu-ray] from

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