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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The main character says he wants to expose a huge corporate scandal because he believes it's wrong, but it soon it becomes clear that he has less pure motives for coming forward. The film is based on a true story about an investigation into price-fixing by massive conglomerate Archer Daniels Midland.
Positive Role Models
Mark is an unreliable narrator who may not always be telling the whole truth. His motives for becoming an informant are questionable, and his stories usually paint him as either a hero or victim but never show him doing anything wrong.
Violence & Scariness
Some intense arguments.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
One man crudely discusses a former co-worker and how attractive she was.
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Plenty of swearing, including many uses of "f--k" (some with "mother"), "s--t," "t-ts," "goddamn," "a--hole," "damn," "hell," and more.
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Products & Purchases
Brands mentioned or seen include luxury cars (like Porsche and Ferrari), EconoLodge, and Anheuser Busch.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Some adult characters drink -- both socially and at times of crisis.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this engaging Steven Soderbergh comedy received an R rating principally for language. The actual subject matter -- corporate misdeeds -- may only appeal to teens, however, because it stars Matt Damon. The movie is based on a true story and sends some mixed messages about corporate ethics; ethical breaches are treated somewhat lightly, which may make the crimes seem less serious. And the main character isn't exactly a role model himself. That said, teens old enough to understand the movie's tone won't miss the message about the importance of questioning greed and its place in today's society. While there's little sex or violence, you can expect some drinking and plenty of cursing (including "f--k," "s--t," and more), plus frank, sometimes complicated discussions about certain criminal activities. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Based on a true story, this movie is never what it seems. It reads espionage but winds up a farce. It looks dated, but with all the corporate intrigues in recent headlines, it feels au courant. And there's Whitacre, portrayed sympathetically by Damon, whose performance borders on caricature but doesn't cross the line. From the moment we hear him speak through voiceovers that reveal his musings -- which ping-pong from his favorite German word ("kugelschreiber") to the texture of avocado to his ambitions at ADM -- we sense that something's not quite right. But is it his company? The government? Or Mark himself?
Director Steven Soderbergh balances comedy and intrigue masterfully. Had he opted for a straightforward retelling, The Informant! could easily have veered into tedium. But this treatment feels just right. After all, Whitacre isn't your average whistle-blower: He's bumbling, indiscreet, and grandiose (at least in this take on his story). Soderbergh includes the audience while simultaneously leaving them befuddled, part of the same perplexing ride that nearly everyone else Whitacre encounters is on. The score (by Marvin Hamlisch), the set design -- it's all right on target, down to the cutesy exclamation point in the title.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.