Movie Review: The Informant!

Matt Damon Reinvents the Moustache

Talk about a step in the right direction for Stephen Soderbergh! After a half decade of commercial wankfests (see any movie with Ocean in the title) and self-indulgent spankfests (how is Sasha Grey doing by the way?) Stephen Soderbergh finally decided to make a movie that was both commercial AND had a point. The result? The Informant! is a smart mix of clever screenwriting, solid performances and enough comedian cameos to keep your peepers percolating until the credits roll.

Matt Damon stars as corn-loving businessman Mark Whitaker. Mark decides to become an informant for the FBI because he suspects members of his own company are up to foul play. As the story unravels, Mark’s reliability as an informant comes into question as his Midwestern charm butts heads with his new life as a secret agent.

I have a special bias toward comedy in most if not all cases. So I immediately fault the movie for not taking advantage of its capable cast of comedians. However, the performances are believable and the entire film takes place in a sepia-toned late 80’s/early 90’s wonderland. Basically everything this movie does is pure class from beginning to end. (Apparently some of George Clooney’s smugness must have rubbed off on Soderbergh? It’s an epidemic!) And it’s hard to fault a film with such a subliminal advertising campaign. The poster is yet another in the line of movie posters to steal the 40 Year Old Virgin’s single color backdrop and innocently goofy central character. Take a gander:

Pretty much the same exact poster, right? But it’s not the only culprit.

A little more forgivable because it’s still Apatow. But how about this?

Anna Faris once gave me a junior mint. True Story.

The reason The Informant’s poster stands above the sea of cheap money-loving imitators is its boldfaced optimism. Check out that tagline: “Unbelievable.” No attributed publication, no indication that it’s a line of dialogue. That is a direct endorsement from Stephen Soderbergh himself that this movie rocked his shit. As if that wasn’t enough, Soderbergh slaps on an exclamation point to the title’s backside, so the movie can literally shout about how much it loves itself. Even Matt Damon seems thrilled that his story of lies and intrigue is so mind-blowing. You don’t see that kind of gung-ho endorsement on the cover of Bubble, do you? Nowhere on the cover of The Good German do you see the words “psychotropic”. It’s as if every person who sees the movie sees something so life altering, they never go back to the same way they used to think about Matt Damon with a moustache. Clearly Peter Moore ran the marketing campaign for this movie, because every indication states that The Informant! will be ten times more vivid than a lucid dream.

And you know what? The movie is really, really good. I honestly wouldn’t call it unbelievable, but any movie that’s going to change my belief structure better have a forty-minute Bill Maher monologue at the end of it (just kidding). I don’t want to spoil for you the many twists and turns of the plot, but I will tell you that the fact that the movie was inspired by a true story makes it all the more incredible. No, maybe incredible isn’t the right word for it. Unmistakable..? Incorrigible? If only there was some soothing orange poster to give me the perfect word for this film! Urgh! This is so frustrating! Damn you brain! Why must you think for yourself?!

Grade: B+

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