BIFF Film Review & Thoughts: Freakonomics

Based on the book by economist Steven Levitt and journalist Stephen Dubner, ‘Freakonomics’ is a collection of four mini-documentaries (each with a different director), loosely tied together by discussions between Levitt and Dubner. The subject matter covered by each director is diverse, and perhaps for this reason ‘Freakonomics’ doesn’t so much provide a cohesive film experience, rather it presents a series of fascinating short films … or at least that’s how it felt to me.

The first ‘chapter’ directed by Morgan Spurlock looks at whether a child’s name has any impact on their adult destiny. Alex Gibney then investigates patterns of corruption in the world of sumo wrestling. The third chapter by Eugene Jarecki explores a controversial theory behind the dramatic drop in crime rates in the 1990s. Finally, Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady analyse whether children can be successfully bribed to improve their grades.

While each mini-documentary is interesting, some are definitely more intriguing than others. I personally found the first and third chapters to be the most intriguing. In saying that though, I could happily watch similar bite size interpretations of ‘Freakonomics’ and be very satisfied (I’m a sucker for documentaries and interpretations of statistical analyses).

Aside from the different subject matter addressed by each mini-documentary within ‘Freakonomics’, the other really interesting thing was appreciating the different styles adopted by each director to present the information. Mr Quiet Paws reflected that perhaps ‘Freakonomics’ would work better as a television series rather than as a cinematic film release, and I would have to agree.


  1. Mel

    That sounds really interesting – I hadn’t heard of it!

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Mel – I think my husband has since purchased the ‘Freakonomics’ book, so hopefully that provides further fascinating statistical insights … I’ll let you know! 🙂

  2. Erika Lee Sears

    I love a good documentary! Sounds like the film was a little all over the place with what it was trying to cover- and maybe it would have been better as a series versus 1 film.

    I’ll put it in my Netflix 🙂

    Do you have Netflix?

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Erika – Me too! (I love watching documentaries … I love learning something while I watch!). While Freakonomics was probably a little messy from a film perspective, I think the stories it presented within each ‘chapter’ were really interesting … but yes, it would work better as a TV series I think.

      I’m pretty sure Netflix is available in Australia, but I don’t use it myself … but what a great way to plan for what you want to watch next! 🙂

Comments are closed.