Freakonomics (2010)

2 Jun

Freakonomics, written by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, has been a very succesful book which has sold over 4 million copies. It looks at society using economics on subjects that most economists would not choose. With its success and the interesting subject matter it’s perfect to use the material for a documentary. Does this documentary succeed in bringing the book to life?

The movie has been divided in a number of subjects, which have all been shot by a different documentary maker:

– Does the name you choose for you child have consequences for his/her success later in life? Are you more succesful when you are called John compared to when you are called Shaniqua? (directed by Morgan Spurlock)
– Is it possible to prove, using economic theory, that there is corruption and cheating in the world of sumo wrestling? (directed by Alex Gibney)
– Will students work harder if they can earn 50 dollars when they have good grades? (directed by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady)
– Does legalisation of abortion have effect on crime rates? (directed by Eugene Jarecki)

As different directors are used these are actually 4 min documentaries, each with their own distinct style. Spurlock (who made Supersize Me) tells his story with a lot of humour. The tone about sumo wrestling is much more serious. The 4 segments were glued together with interviews with Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner.

The only thing which seemed to be missing was arguments against these theories. As the authors were part of the movie, it’s an understandable choice, but it does make it a one-sided story.

Although I would have liked to see a bit more depth with some subjects I though Freakonomics was an interesting documentary. I liked the mix of different styles and the answers it gave to some very original questions.

Score: 7


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