Boom Bust Boom

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Boom Bust Boom Movie Poster Image
Monty Python alum explains financial crisis, with puppets.
  • NR
  • 2016
  • 74 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

People need to be more aware of the social pressures to buy -- and especially to buy on credit. The film argues that this type of behavior, when seen at the macro level, is what precipitated the financial crisis of 2008, as well as several other economic bubbles throughout history.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Many of the voices in the documentary are renowned academics, including several Nobel laureates in economics, and they explain important theories in easy-to-grasp terms.

Violence
Sex
Language

Occasional swearing, mostly "s--t" and "f--k."

Consumerism

The movie's whole point is to discuss the impact of a society ultra-focused on consumption -- and how the endless drive to buy and buy can eventually drag down an entire economy.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Boom Bust Boom is an entertaining (if perhaps somewhat oversimplified) trip through economic history, featuring Monty Python veteran Terry Jones explaining the 2008 financial crisis, as well as several other economic boom-bust cycles in the past several centuries. Jones (who also directed) turns to academics and experts for help, including a few Nobel laureates; and for the really tough ideas, he brings in puppets to show how things work. The whole thing is delivered at about a ninth-grade level, so parents, teens, and older tweens can all watch together and discuss. There's some swearing ("s--t" and "f--k"), but otherwise the content is worry-free.

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What's the story?

In BOOM BUST BOOM, Monty Python alum Terry Jones turns his sharp eye on the financial crisis of 2008 -- and then looks back several centuries to show that this pattern has repeated itself over and over again. To help explain these complicated theories, Jones turns to many economics experts, including a few Nobel laureates, as well as cartoonists, puppeteers, and animators. The result makes economics fun (kind of), or at least easy to grasp.

Is it any good?

Boom Bust Boom is probably the most entertaining documentary about economics that's come out in a while. Jones' outrage and sense of the absurd blend well as he paints a picture of the excess and greed that nearly destroyed the global banking system. It's certainly a topic that, as broken down in this entertaining film, tweens and teens will understand, though at times it does feel like some of the ideas may have been oversimplified.

The film gets more interesting in the second half, when Jones and his deep bench of brainiacs explain how the 2008 crisis was just like many, many other bubbles over the past several centuries. Yes, it starts with the Dutch tulip mania that's well-trod and familiar, but then it moves onto other less-famous examples of economic excess. The result makes it clear that 2008 wasn't an isolated event -- it was the latest in a long line of financial crises. Here's hoping we can avoid more in the future.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about economics. What did Boom Bust Boom teach you about the financial crisis of 2008? Was the presentation style easy to follow? Why or why not?

  • What questions does the movie raise about the culture of consumption? What's the best way to talk to kids about advertising and the push to buy?

  • What role can movies play in educating people about subjects like economics? Does it make them more accessible? Do serious subjects require serious treatment?

  • Why do people seem to follow similar patterns, again and again, over the centuries? Was the 2008 financial crisis an anomaly or history repeating itself?

Movie details

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