Monday, November 30, 2009

Bourne again? Um, no: "The Informant!"

Hi there. Yes, it's me. Really.

So we decided in September to put our house on the market, which took up some time over several weeks. Then there's the new job. Then there was ... me just being tired. Alas, the urge to expound on whatever dreck I've seen will not be stifled, so here I am.

Given a chance to sneak out to Ye Olde Moviehouse last weekend, I checked the local listings to find ... pretty much nothing. Oh, there was plenty of first-run movies. Just nothing I cared to see. "2012?" Even with the special effects, I wasn't sitting through 2 1/2 hours of that crap. "Men Who Stare at Goats?" Sounded a little too dopey. "Twilight: New Moon." Come on ... six times is enough for me. (Que Bella!)

Luckily, "The Informant!" was at the second-run theater, which definitely was a $2 theater. No stadium seating and a projector that made the screen look like one of those hazy Barbara Walters interviews. Woof. Fortunately, the movie mostly made up for the setting.

Our story is relatively simple: A high-level executive (Matt "EuroTrip" Damon) at ADM, the agribusiness giant, decides in the early '90s that he can't condone a price-fixing scheme and starts working with the FBI. There's only one problem: Our hero lies. A lot. Oh, not about the price-fixing. That's legit. But a lot of other stuff isn't, and between that and his rambling musings -- the result of some mental issues, it appears -- we're in for a ride.

Damon digs into his role, playing this kooky exec who has a gravy train but can't keep from screwing it up -- for justice, yes, but other reasons, too. While his public fumblings as a corporate spy were a spectacle, the internal monologue was a hoot, too, especially when his thoughts were blurted out at seemingly inappropriate times. (The bit about girls' panties for sale in Japanese vending machines just killed me.)

Good supporting cast here. Nice to see Scott Bakula still working, this time as the main FBI agent. Melanie Lynskey is excellent as Damon's wife, and Tony Hale does a decent job breaking away from his Buster Bluth persona as Damon's lawyer. And ... why, yes ... that is Clancy Brown. A little spiffier than as The Kurgan, but still ... Love. Him.

While the trailers made this out to be a comedy, Steven Soderbergh has given us something a little more nuanced. Yes, there are laughs. But there's also something up with this guy, and there are some uncomfortable scenes, and not in a ha-ha way. All in all, I thought it worked, but it's different. A little bit "The Insider," a little bit "Catch Me If You Can," a little bit "Austin Powers." If only Damon had a frilly lace cravat to go with his wispy mustache. Yeah, baby!