All through the 90s, I remember my dad complaining that the 70s were back. He had “already lived through it once,” and he insisted that he didn’t need to do it again. Right from the beginning of The Informant! I wondered, “When did the 90s become the 70s?” and was distracted by this question through the entire movie. From the omnipresent pseudo-sepia hue, to Matt Damon’s god-awful mustache, to the “Groovy-esque” font in which the end credits appeared, I was convinced that the film was taking place in the wrong decade.
There’s mild Oscar buzz for this film, but I can’t imagine for which category. There’s no interesting camera work (the only time where I got the sense that the filmmakers were trying to convey a strong perspective was during a brief shot of Matt Damon in a movie theater), the performances were so-so (though I did SO enjoy seeing Joel McHale on the big screen, Damon’s role was a tired, frattier, goofier interpretation of what felt to me more like a Philip Seymour Hoffman character), the script was more or less a mess (there is so much that could have been done, visually, to make Matt Damon’s neurotic and funny asides have meaning and cohesion to what was going on on-screen), and ultimately, the film didn’t say anything of import.
Mostly, I found The Informant! to be a very, very sad film. The last thing I want is to watch a movie that can’t decide if it wants to be funny or moral (few movies can do both) but this film wasn’t even that dedicated to being funny, and I question the morality of it. Bi-polar disorder is a serious problem for those that suffer from it, and it (as the film demonstrates) affects everybody in that person’s life. Good comedy has the ability to cast ridicule on those that should have known better; somebody in Mark Whitacre’s life should have picked up on something being so terribly wrong with him a lot earlier. They deserve to be made ridiculous for their utter cluelessness. The film relied too heavily on Matt Damon/Mark Whitacre for humor and not enough on its supporting cast.