In Theatres: 
Oct 01, 2010
Running Time: 
85 minutes

Freakonomics is a 2005 book that explores economics from a different perspective and is written by economist Steven Levitt and journalist Stephen Dubner. Just like the book, the film is split into different sections that explore a variety of topics. One looks at the impact of naming babies, another at cheating in sumo wrestling, a third on abortion and crime, and the last on incentives.

Each mini-documentary is done by a different team of directors so you get four completely different perspectives on how economics come into play in the overall big picture. This also means that each section is either a hit or a miss in terms of story and unfortunately, the film misses its mark more than it hits it.

The film starts off on a decent foot with the first story about the impact of names. It's funny, clever, and makes you think about where your name comes from and if it has affected your life in any way. It's just a shame that they only explored whites and blacks and not any of the other ethnicities. Still, it's the best the film has to offer.

The second section explores cheating in the sport of sumo wresting.If I wanted to learn about all the ins and outs of the sport than yeah, I might have been interested but I really didn't see what this had to do with anything really. Sure, there's cheating going on in sumo but what does that show? There's cheating practically everywhere. It just goes on and on about random nonsense that you simply don't care about.

The third story doesn't fare that much better. Apparently the reason why the crime rate was down was because abortion was legalized by the Roe v. Wade case. Now is when those unwanted children would be coming into the prime crime age so with them not there, there's less crime. While their statement is pretty convincing, I couldn't help but feel that there was more too it than just that. A little more facts and data would have been nice to see rather than them simply expecting us to take their word for it.

The final story involves an experiment that offered $50 to 9th graders who were able to keep their grades above a C average each month. The documentary follows two students as they attempt to boost their grades in order to receive the money. To make things more interesting, one eligible student is randomly selected to win $500 and a ride in a Hummer limo. It's an interesting study and the kids they decide to follow make it all the more enjoyable.

Freakonomics is something that looks good on paper (the book has sold over four million copies) but on screen, you must fight to stay awake. For much of it, it's mindless dribble about how you should look at certain situations. Some of it's interesting but much of it seems pointless. Even if you enjoyed reading the book, this is one film adaptation I would steer clear from.

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Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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