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"FAST, CHEAP & OUT OF CONTROL"
(1997) (Documentary) (PG)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
None None *Minor *Minor Minor
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Minor None Minor None None
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Minor None None Minor Minor


QUICK TAKE:
Documentary: The lives of four people obsessed with their work are explored.
PLOT:
Four distinctly different people, who are obsessed with their work, are studied in this documentary. Dave Hoover is a lion tamer who idolizes his mentor, Clyde Beatty, who also starred in many old, black and white adventure movies. When not remembering his idol, Hoover delves into the psychological makeup of his big cats. Creating big animals of his own is George Mendonca, a topiary gardener who has spent much of his life caring for (and always trimming) the hedge creatures in one Rhode Island garden. Ray Mendez is fascinated with hairless mole rats, subterranean rodents who are insect-like in their societal behavior. Finally there's Rodney Brooks, a M.I.T. scientist who wants to create autonomous insect-like robots, creatures he envisions will one day take over the world. As the stories are interwoven with old archival and movie footage, common threads are discovered and the material becomes an analogy of human life and existence.
WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
The thought of seeing a documentary will probably have many kids running for the hills, but you should encourage them to watch this fascinating film.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG
For mild thematic elements.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
See "Plot" for descriptions of these people's occupations. Other than their obsessive behavior toward their work (which can have both good and bad results), these guys come across as good role models.
CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


OUR TAKE: 7 out of 10
When the word "documentary" is mentioned, people often think of those boring films they had to watch in school, or at best, the educational programs seen on the like of cable's The Discovery Channel. That is, of course, unless you're talking about Errol Morris. Having directed critically acclaimed films such as "Gates of Heaven" (no, not "Heaven's Gate" -- this one's about pet cemeteries), "A Brief History of Time," and "A Thin Blue Line," Morris has gained a reputation for taking the mundane and turning it into fascinating, topnotch entertainment. That perfectly describes "Fast, Cheap & Out of Control," his latest film that will amaze you while teaching you a thing or two.

Shot in a frenetic, MTV-type style (but much more innovative and never annoying), Morris lets cinematographer Robert Richardson (who won an Academy award for his work on Oliver Stone's "J.F.K.") run loose and the results are impressive. Shooting on varying degrees of film stock as well as video, the film has a fresh, always inventive look about it. Karen Schmeer and Shondra Merrill also deserve merits for their outstanding editing of the newly shot film and video with old archival footage, movies and even cartoons. Similarly, Caleb Sampson's tremendous score creates as much mood as does the directing and photography. By interweaving the four separate stories and then often using the audio from one with the visual of another, Morris creates a complex story. Seemingly distinct occupational obsessions suddenly become interrelated and more interesting once interwoven with the other material.

Morris also delivers something rarely seen in documentaries. The subjects look into the camera lense, not off to the side. This is possible through his invention of the Interrotron, a device that projects the interviewer's face onto a teleprompter screen in front of the lens. This allows a deeper interaction between the subjects and the audience because they're often looking right at us, and not off camera -- and makes it seem as if they're directly telling us their story. The stories themselves are more fascinating than one initially expects, partly due to the direction and photography, but also because of the subjects' obsessive drives and goals.

Quite amazingly, their four stories become analogies about human life. Two of them long for the days of yesteryear and see their professions and themselves slowly disappearing into oblivion. The other two look toward the future when humankind might not be around and will have been replaced by robotic inventions or perhaps even insect-like rodents that sacrifice the individual for the sake of the community as a whole. If you get the chance, go see this film or rent it once it comes out on video. You won't be disappointed. We give "Fast, Cheap, & Out of Control" an 7 out of 10.

OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
With no category receiving higher than a minor rating, this film is suitable for nearly any age. Some brief footage from old films shows people shooting at robots or giant insects as well as some non-graphic lion attacks on trainers. Beyond that and the very brief footage that shows part of women's bare butts in their high cut circus outfits, there's nothing to object to in this fascinating film.

ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • None.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • None.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Some may view using wild animals in circuses as having some bad attitudes.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • There's some old footage (brief and non-graphic) of lions attacking trainers and of a lion and tiger battle that may be a little unsettling to the youngest of viewers, but beyond that, there's almost nothing to object about.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Handguns/Rifles: Seen and used in old movie footage.
  • Blank gun: The camera occasionally focuses on the lion tamer's gun (filled with blanks), and we see him fire it a few times.
  • Knives: Old film footage briefly shows the circus act where a man throws knives toward a woman standing against a wall.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • A trapeze circus woman spins by her neck from a rope hanging from above her.
  • Old film footage shows the circus act where a man throws knives toward a woman standing against a wall.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • There's just a minor bit of such music in the film.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • None.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • A few of the outfits worn by women in the circus are rather high cut and occasionally reveal a good part of their butts.
  • SMOKING
  • None.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • None.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • These men, their interesting work and their obsession with it.
  • Using wild animals in circus performances.
  • VIOLENCE
  • There are several shots of lions attacking trainers in old footage and of a lion and tiger fight.
  • There are also several shots of people fighting each other in old movie footage, or with people shooting guns at robots or at giant insects in old 1950's films, but it's very brief and extremely minor in content.



  • Reviewed October 9, 1997

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