Dave's Rating:


Matt Damon eats donuts for art.

Who's In It: Matt Damon, Melanie Lynskey, Scott Bakula, Joel McHale

The Basics: Matt Damon gained 30-something pounds of paunch and grew an awful mustache and consented to a puffy hair-piece to play a freakishly upbeat, Ned Flanders-like, corporate drone (based on a true--and really very strange--story) who spills the beans about price-fixing at Archer Daniels Midland in the mid-1990s. And you can relax, this isn't a "get the bad corporation movie," because you find out increasingly weird stuff about Damon's meds-deficient character as the running time rolls on.

What's The Deal: It's recent historical white collar crime drama, but it's also not that. It's character-driven comedy, but the funny stuff is so bone dry and head-scratch-making that you wonder if you're supposed to laugh. It's a '70s whistleblower/sticking-it-to-The Man movie, too. Sort of. Except the paranoia and disillusion is replaced by a modern, weary knowledge that everyone's dumb and self-absorbed and corrupt, even the good guys. So when it all hits the fan, Damon's character is more interested in talking to the press and seeing himself on TV than anything else. More funny-weird than funny-ha-ha. But still funny.

Pick A Decade: One cool thing going on is director Steven Soderbergh's decision to create a visually unpleasing Midwest '80s version of the early '90s and then filter it through his favorite '70s sensibility. Fonts that announce time and place are from 35 years ago instead of 15, The Sting's composer Marvin Hamlisch is responsible for the get-a-load-of-THIS musical score, and actors from that era pop up in random roles. People like The Smothers Brothers and American Graffiti star Candy Clark. The effect of all this is satisfyingly disorienting.

Leaving The Soup In 5...4...3...: Joel McHale plays one of the FBI guys and, while he's not doing anything new with himself besides having less cool hair than normal, the wide-eyed-yet-also-sitting-in-judgment "Can you BELIEVE this?" look he's patented while hosting his E! show serves him well in the role. I laughed every time I looked at him.

Shut Up, Comedians: Watch out for tiny roles filled by stand-up comics like Paul Tompkins, Rick Overton, Patton Oswalt and Tom Papa. And none of them are comic parts. They all play lawyers and corporate types. (See "disorienting" comment above.)


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