This was one of those movies that should have been even greater than the sum of its parts. But it wasn’t. Sad horn noise here.
I’ve never been one for dry, or shall I say arid-humored movies. Some of the Coen brothers’ works, like A Serious Man and Burn After Reading, went completely over my head because of how dry the humor was. And this film had a similar feel, or at least the first 50 or so minutes did. I understood the basic gist of the movie, that there was this idiotic informant who was screwing things up left and right because he couldn’t keep his facts straight and he had a bit of a memory problem and couldn’t help but throw in an occasional lie here and there. That part was obvious. What wasn’t obvious was the humor. Because this film was based on a true story, it’s hard to tell what character traits were built into the story and what character traits were added by the writers and actors. I couldn’t quite figure out what to laugh at until the midway point, and by the time I got there, the movie was already halfway done. Oh, well. I guess it’s not for everyone.
On the bright side, this movie had an incredible cast directed by the esteemed Steven Soderbergh. He somehow managed to make Matt Damon, Joel McHale, Scott Bakula, Tony Hale, and Patton Oswalt look incredibly ordinary and boring, enveloped in that mid-90s brown-ish color that is all of a sudden associated with those years. Damon, as the titular and exclamation-pointed informant, had a wicked ugly mustache and big ass glasses. Bakula and McHale sacrificed the height of their normally nice hair for the sake of their straight-laced FBI characters. And Hale and Oswalt got the chance to play characters more dignified than usual. I could see the appeal of the movie for actors like them, because it gives them a chance to play something serious that they don’t have to take too seriously.
While I was let-down by the whole movie (and honestly, a little depressed by the plot), I was amused and intrigued by the names that signed on to the project. That’s got to count for something, right?