‘Informant’ flabbergasts expectations in good way

David Wiens

Hard as it was tearing myself away from my computer now that my internet connection is working properly, the bitter taste left over from “Julie & Julia,” coupled with the fact that my queue on Hulu was now empty, told me it was time was time to get out of the apartment and go sit on my ass somewhere else and stare at a bigger screen for a couple of hours.

“The Informant” is a bit of a curious film. When you look at the names Steven Soderbergh and Matt Damon, with a supporting cast including Joel McHale (“The Soup”) and Tony Hale (“Arrested Development”), one of the last things you’d expect is a low-key movie based on the true story of an informant who was helping the FBI get evidence of international price-setting.

“The Informant” further confounds expectations with one of the most wonderfully irrelevant narrations of the main character’s inner monologue, which frequently covers up dialogue with musings about animal coloring and how much money people who work for him are making. The odd little musings and factoids enforce the idea that Mark Whitacre (Matt Damon) is either a mild genius who simply amuses himself when people talk about things he already understands, or a fool with a mild Attention-Deficit Disorder who somehow was able to stumble into a Ph.D. and a cushy job, both of which seem true at one point or another.

Despite having quite a few good laughs, “The Informant” is a very subtle film, amusing the audience mostly through the reactions to Whitacre’s foolish confidence in the face of criminal activity, as well as some of his more outlandish behavior towards the end of the film as he desperately tries to deal with the actions coming from the company he turned in and the criminal accusations against himself that came to light as a result.

Although “The Informant” is not at all what you would expect from looking at the names in the credits, it’s definitely worth going to see.