Steven Levitt, Stephen Dubner
One of the kids: Next year, when I’m a sophomore, I’m going to tell you that I am doing great and I am getting A’s and B’s. Next year when I’m a sophomore… Yep… And if not A’s and B’s, straight B’s or B’s and C’s… Hey, that stuff’s difficult. That’s not as easy as it looks. I can promise you milk and cookies, but if the oven’s broke, you’ll just get milk!
An economist, Levitt, and a journalist, Dubner, examine the trends, statistics, and economics behind various subjects.
This one is a little hit and miss, though I found myself mostly interested in it. It’s part documentary and part dramatic recreations. Each segment is directed by a different filmmaker, and there’s definitely different styles throughout. It flows together fairly well, but not perfectly.
I enjoyed the first segment, about naming children, the most. The directing style is fun and interesting, and the subject matter is well presented.
Then we get the long, tedious segment about cheating in the world of Sumo wrestling. The subject of cheating, and the various motivations behind it, could be interesting, but this segment devolved into a history of Sumo wrestling and then into an indictment of the Japanese police force.
My interest picked back up with the next two main segments. There’s the controversial one about legalized abortion resulting in lower crime rates, and finally the segment about whether or not bribing high school kids with money will result in improved grades. Those segments moved along better and were much more interesting. Though, some of the kids in the last segment almost seemed to be reading lines rather than expressing their actual thoughts. That might stem from the whole segment being a little over produced, but I’m not sure. Either way, it was still pretty entertaining.
Overall, despite being entertaining, this felt more like a TV quality documentary rather than a theatrical one. Like something you’d see on Penn & Teller’s show. Maybe that’s why I was able to see it on-demand, “Before it’s in theaters”.
It does accomplish it’s main goal though – to get the viewer thinking about cause and effect in their daily lives and in the world as a whole.
If you want your kid to succeed in life, name him “Loser”…not “Winner”.
10 – 2 for that long, dull Sumo section – .4 for not having such a great overall flow to it = 7.6