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Parents' Guide to


By S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Engaging economic docu is too complex for young kids.

Movie PG-13 2010 86 minutes
Freakonomics Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 9+

Based on 1 parent review

age 9+

Like Common Sense said, too complex for young kids

Both my 6.75yo and my just-turned-10yo watched this with me the other day. We paused it a lot to talk about things. They both enjoyed it, but I feel the younger kid didn't really grasp everything, whereas the older did, and probably would've while he was still 9yo as well. So, I don't think there are any major issues (Kijkwijzer (the Dutch ratings agency) rates it as safe for all ages), though if you have a very sensitive kid, murder and abortion are mentioned, but I suspect most kids under 9 are likely to be quite bored with the movie. Also, the movie mentions cheating (as in rigged matches in sumo wrestling and teachers bubbling in answers in kids' answer sheets to make the school look good), which could potentially upset kids who have a strong sense of fairness (or parents who would rather that their kids are not aware of those things - basically, those are some bad role models, though the movie doesn't advocate cheating). Also, the book is better, imo, but since my 10yo wanted to read one of Levitt and Dubner's books (When to Rob a Bank), I thought the docu would be a good intro to make the book easier to read (he hasn't read the book yet, and neither have I, so I'm not sure how that'll work out). I think both the book Freakonomics, its sequel, Superfreakonomics, and the docu do a good job making people aware of economics and incentives and the like in daily life - they're not at all boring or stuffy, but if you're a little kid, it's a little complex.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1 ):
Kids say (3 ):

As good as such wonky material can get, Freakonomics is an admirable attempt at discourse, relying not just on the printed page but also visuals. In many ways, it succeeds: The four main segments are weighty, interesting, and, yes, sometimes controversial, including Levitt's theory that legalized abortion led to decreased incidents of violent crime 20 years later. And some insights are meaty: Reading parenting books won't help you raise a child who's better and cooler; causation isn't correlation; the sport of sumo is artful, yes, but quite possibly troubled; social and moral incentives matter.

Nevertheless, Freakonomics lacks cohesion, which may not be all that surprising given how it stitches disparate "episodes" fashioned by different directors sourced from a book written by two authors. Having a handful of directors with different storytelling techniques makes the movie feel disjointed; of all of them, Gibney's sumo expose is most lyrical and Jarecki's most surprising. It feels like five episodes from a TV series that we'd love to follow. Flaws aside, it's worth watching, if only to give your brain an entertaining workout.

Movie Details

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