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"THE INFORMANT!"
(2009) (Matt Damon, Scott Bakula) (R)

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


QUICK TAKE:
Dark comedy: An earnest corporate whistleblower is found to be just as corrupt as those he's turning in to the Feds.
PLOT:
In the early 1990s, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) junior executive Mark Whitacre (MATT DAMON) became convinced that if he helped the FBI gather enough evidence against his company's illegal price-fixing activities, he would look like a hero to the firm's board of directors and be elevated to president. After making contact with Special Agent Shepard (SCOTT BAKULA), Whitacre spends most of the next three years taping conversations, positioning hidden cameras, and handing over documents that seemingly give the federal government an airtight case.

When the arrest warrants are handed down, ADM's executive staff led by Vice Chairman Mick Andreas (TOM PAPA) and Head of Corporate Security Mark Cheviron (TOM WILSON) hire corporate attorney Aubrey Daniel (CLANCY BROWN) and devote significant man hours to dig up dirt on Whitacre, who has also taken part in his own fraud scheme to hide millions of payoffs in offshore accounts.

As the case falls apart, Whitacre is shown to be a seriously unbalanced individual. He ignores Shepard's repeated pleas not to talk to the media and tells lie upon lie until it is discovered that he has a bipolar disorder. Left out to dry by the Feds, Whitacre and his supportive wife, Ginger (MELANIE LYNSKEY), feel the pressure as seemingly everyone turns on them.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Matt Damon has a following among teenagers because of his "Bourne" movies, but probably only older teens will have any real interest.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For language.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • MATT DAMON plays a real-life corporate whistleblower who helped the FBI for several years in the early 1990s gather evidence against Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), the agri-business giant that had been engaged in illegal price fixing. In addition to being an earnest guy eager to help the Feds, it is revealed that Whitacre also committed fraud himself, suffered from a bipolar disorder, had delusions that he could be president of ADM if he cooperated with the Feds, and is a pathological liar.
  • MELANIE LYNSKEY plays Mark Whitacre's supportive wife, who is the one who first convinces him to become a government informant.
  • SCOTT BAKULA plays the lead FBI agent on the ADM case. He is an honest man whose integrity is called into question when it is revealed that Whitacre is also spectacularly corrupt.
  • JOEL McHALE plays an FBI agent brought in to help Shepard on the case. He is also a straight-laced professional who tries to keep Whitacre from scuttling the government's case.
  • TOM WILSON plays the head of corporate security for ADM. He is aware of the company's corruption and is a key player in behind-the-scenes attempts to shift the focus from ADM's double dealings to Whitacre's crimes. He swears often and is a drinker.
  • TOM PAPA plays ADM's vice chairman, a second-generation executive who is fully aware of and completely endorses the company's price-fixing activities.
  • CLANCY BROWN plays ADM's lead corporate lawyer, who is portrayed as a one-note, calculating, mustache-twirler of an attorney who is only too happy to do what he can to defend ADM against the government's charges.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this dark comedy that has been rated R. Profanity consists of at least 9 "f" words, while other expletives, racial slurs, and colorful phrases are also uttered. Some brief sexually related dialogue is also present.

    Bad attitudes are present throughout, as the film centers on highly illegal corporate activities that executives then try to legally get off the hook for. There is also some potentially imitative behavior, most notably the protagonist's compulsive need to lie, and various thematic elements. Characters also drink alcohol in several scenes, and tense family material is present.

    If you're still concerned about the film and its appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home who may be interested in seeing it, we suggest that you take a closer look at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Mark and a fellow executive share a whiskey and a beer on an airplane.
  • Mark has cocktails with three colleagues.
  • Mark is later shown having dinner with his fellow executives, and alcohol is on the table.
  • One company executive is shown drinking from a glass of whiskey as he and his cronies strategize about what to do next after the FBI bust.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • Shepard sneezes hard into his hand and a little spray is shown.
  • One executive is heard revealing the punch line of an off-color joke about an elephant urinating.
  • Ants swarm around Mark's feet in a public restroom.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Mark secretly envies a co-worker who makes $100,000 a year for "just sitting at his desk."
  • Mark has a running inner monologue throughout the film in which he envies a number of other people for both major and minor attributes.
  • Mark falsely claims a Japanese competitor is sabotaging ADM's product line, and a mole is requesting $10 million.
  • One of Mark's corporate colleagues ogles a flight attendant's backside as she walks away.
  • Another executive expresses his hope that an attractive woman does not get pregnant and mess up her body, making specific mention of the woman's breasts.
  • One executive is heard revealing the punch line of an off-color joke about an elephant urinating.
  • Several ADM executives casually refer to their Japanese business counterparts as "Japs."
  • ADM is clearly shown negotiating with Japanese executives on a global price-fixing scheme involving lysine. The ensuing scam is said to have bilked hundreds of millions of dollars worldwide from consumers.
  • Mark is not entirely truthful with the FBI on first meeting. This sets up a pattern followed through for the rest of the picture in which Mark either tells a part of the truth or doesn't confess to certain things until he is confronted with concrete proof.
  • Mark lies to the FBI about how his work schedule has made it hard to make tapes.
  • Mark disobeys Shepard and his partner and discusses his secret taping activities, thus compromising the case against ADM.
  • Mark confesses to having invented a corporate mole to save his job.
  • Mark lies about his parents being killed when he was a child and being adopted by a wealthy family. When this lie is uncovered, he blames other people for perpetuating it.
  • Mark is found to have embezzled millions from ADM while working with the FBI, a crime he thinks he should be excused for because he has served as a whistle blower. His technique involved setting up a bogus offshore company, having it send ADM a fictitious invoice, and then paying off the bill under his own signature.
  • It becomes a running joke how much illegal money Mark has hid away. The sum starts out as $5 million and eventually gets as high as $11.5 million.
  • Mark lies about Shepard hitting him with a briefcase and destroying tapes. He then lies about Shepard telling him to lie.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • None.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • FBI agents carry holstered guns throughout the film, but never draw.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "We're not gonna let the Japs f*ck us sideways," "Listen, you little mousy m*therf*cker," "How the f*ck did they get a tape," "F*ck me" (nonsexual), "Those f*cking Japs," "I hope she doesn't get pregnant and f*ck up that body and mess up those t*ts," "Sh*t us out some money," "Sucking the last hind t*t," "Don't jack us around," "They don't have the balls," "Dodo head" and "Are you an idiot?"
  • Mark initially lies to the FBI about how his work schedule has made it hard to make tapes.
  • Mark confesses to having invented a corporate mole to save his job.
  • Mark lies about his parents being killed when he was a child and being adopted by a wealthy family. When this lie is uncovered, he blames other people for perpetuating it.
  • Mark is found to have forged signatures on checks as part of a multimillion-dollar fraud scheme.
  • Mark forges a doctor's letter.
  • Mark is found to have embezzled millions from ADM while working with the FBI, a crime he thinks he should be excused for because he has served as a whistle blower. His technique involved setting up a bogus offshore company, having it send ADM a fictitious invoice, and then paying off the bill under his own signature.
  • Mark lies about Shepard hitting him with a briefcase, destroying tapes, and lies about Shepard telling him to lie.
  • Mark holds the button down on a phone to fake his colleagues into thinking he is talking to a hotel manager and trying to secure a larger meeting room.
  • Mark intentionally tears his clothing and messes up his hair to convince Ginger that he has just survived a kidnapping attempt. He then goes on TV and lies about the crime, which never happened.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • None.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 9 "f" words (1 used with "mother"), 5 "s" words, 2 slang terms for breasts ("t*t[s]"), 2 hells, 1 crap, 1 damn, 1 use of "G-damn," and 1 use of "Jesus."
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • Mark randomly thinks of a story he read about how the Japanese can buy little girls' underwear out of vending machines.
  • One of Mark's corporate colleagues ogles a flight attendant's backside as she walks away.
  • Another executive expresses his hope that an attractive woman does not get pregnant and mess up her body, making specific mention of the woman's breasts ("t*ts).
  • SMOKING
  • None.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Mark and Ginger at first are in disagreement over whether he should cooperate with the FBI and become an informant. Ginger prods him into helping the Feds make their case.
  • Mark's legal troubles cause undue stress on his marriage. Ginger never leaves him. But the stress is there, especially on Ginger's face.
  • Mark rips up his clothing and messes up his hair to convince Ginger that he has just survived a kidnapping attempt.
  • Mark lies about his parents being killed when he was a child and being adopted by a wealthy family. When his mother and father are eventually contacted about this, they are dumbstruck.
  • Ginger realizes her husband is mentally ill when Shepard presents irrefutable evidence that he is heaping lie upon lie.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Corporate corruption.
  • The real-life case of Archer Daniels Midland and its far-reaching effects on how the federal government pursues and prosecutes companies that engage in illegal price-fixing.
  • The negative effects of lying and how one often has to lie more in order to cover us previous untruths.
  • The stress on a marriage when partner is found guilty of illegal activity.
  • Bipolar disorder.
  • VIOLENCE
  • None.



  • Reviewed September 10, 2009 / Posted September 18, 2009

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