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Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005)



Average Rating: 8.1/10
Reviews Counted: 117
Fresh: 114 | Rotten: 3

A concise, entertaining documentary about the spectacular failure of Enron.


Average Rating: 8.2/10
Critic Reviews: 38
Fresh: 37 | Rotten: 1

A concise, entertaining documentary about the spectacular failure of Enron.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 31,336

My Rating

Movie Info

Alex Gibney, who wrote and produced Eugene Jarecki's The Trials of Henry Kissinger, examines the rise and fall of an infamous corporate juggernaut in Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, which he wrote and directed. The film, based on the book by Fortune Magazine reporters Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind, opens with a reenactment of the suicide of Enron executive Cliff Baxter, then travels back in time, describing Enron chairman Kenneth Lay's humble beginnings as the son of a preacher, his


Documentary, Special Interest

Peter Elkind, Alex Gibney, Bethany McLean

Jan 17, 2006


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All Critics (131) | Top Critics (44) | Fresh (114) | Rotten (3) | DVD (18)

Alex Gibney takes a notorious tale of corporate greed and plays it as Greek tragedy, Texas-style.

June 25, 2005 Full Review Source: Deseret News, Salt Lake City
Deseret News, Salt Lake City
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Deft, entertaining and infuriating documentary about one of the most egregious cases of corporate corruption in American history.

June 10, 2005 Full Review Source: Miami Herald
Miami Herald
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A meticulously researched and ably handled chronicle of one of the largest corporate scandals in American history.

May 26, 2005 Full Review Source: Arizona Republic
Arizona Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This thorough and thoroughly depressing account of the biggest corporate bankruptcy in history, and the rip-off that accompanied it, is so infuriating and dispiriting that your blood will boil, if not properly watered down.

May 20, 2005 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This essential documentary skillfully maps out the shady "mark to market" accounting device that the men who called themselves "the smartest guys in the room" used to commit corporate fraud on a colossal scale.

May 9, 2009 Full Review Source:

A fun and demoralizing roller-coaster ride that will whet appetites for the Lay and Skilling debut in court as The Most Nervous Guys in the Room.

March 1, 2007 Full Review Source: Film Journal International
Film Journal International

goes a long way to explain exactly why Enron imploded

January 31, 2006 Full Review Source: Old School Reviews
Old School Reviews

Fascinante do início ao fim, expõe o caso Enron e todas as suas complexas implicações de maneira didática e bem-humorada, funcionando, ainda, como um fantástico estudo sobre a natureza humana.

January 4, 2006
Cinema em Cena

The Emperor Has No Energy

December 28, 2005 Full Review Source: JWR

An expose on how greed, pride, and self-preservation instincts goad ambitious people to the outer capacities of deception and immoral behavior.

December 23, 2005 Full Review Source: Window to the Movies
Window to the Movies

Powerful on many levels at once, Enron couldn't be more necessary as we wade into the muck of a second Bush term.

December 6, 2005 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

Enron... is a film of tragic proportions; it sheds light on the venal humanity that led to more than a giant corporate fall - a human tragedy.

October 6, 2005 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

The mordant documentary Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room cleverly deconstructs the men who reminded us of the dark side of the American dream.

July 29, 2005 Full Review Source: PopMatters

Boils it down and tells the story in clear terms, but make no mistake: It's still a complex issue.

July 26, 2005 Full Review Source:

OK, I admit it. I didn't get the whole Enron thing a few years back.

July 16, 2005 Full Review
KWQC-TV (Iowa)

At the end of it all, the audience feels exhilarated and outraged, and you bet we're concerned that it could happen again.

July 6, 2005 Full Review
Capital Times (Madison, WI)

... capitalism in the hands of "greed is good" Gordon Gekko wanna-bes could potentially bring down our nation.

July 6, 2005 Full Review
Atlantic City Weekly

Digs deeper into the corporate fraud at the top of Enron, and the company's close ties to the White House.

June 12, 2005 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

Probing documentary about the unethical Enron corporation.

June 11, 2005 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

This documentary is the most skillful, exhaustive and appealing film so far this century about corporate corruption.

June 9, 2005
South Florida Sun-Sentinel leaves viewers with a clearer understanding of the issues involved in a story too complicated to sum up in a TV newscast.

June 3, 2005 Full Review Source: Worcester Telegram & Gazette

...a couple of Nietzschean supermen who as, respectively, chairman of the board and chief executive officer ... may have run the biggest Ponzi scheme in history.

May 27, 2005 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Audience Reviews for Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room

This documentary spins the tale of the nation's most disastrous failure of accounting standards and corporate greed in recent memory.
The narration and visuals uniquely balance a straight presentation of the facts and an indictment of the scandal's main players. We get images of lurid strip clubs, where one of the Enron executives spent his billions of loot, and we also see sober, intelligent investigative reporters telling us about mark-to-market accounting and stock options. However, I think, by the end of the film, the balance tips in favor of pathos arguments, as the film attempts to get us more outraged.
Also, the film hints at a broader social commentary, but I don't see this followed through. One "talking head" says, "[The Enron scandal] could happen again." I'm assuming this is even after Sarbanes-Oxley. Likewise, we're instructed by the film to get to know these characters, and by knowing them, perhaps we could see their hubris elsewhere. However, as I said, I don't see these themes explored with the depth they deserve. I want to hear people smarter than I explaining why Americans feel the obsessive need to compile what eventually amounts to Monopoly money. After all, it's virtually impossible to spend a hundred billion dollars in a lifetime, but we sure do try.
June 1, 2011
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

The Smartest Guys in the Room is a fascinating and well made documentary. It chronicles the rise and fall of Enron and it's corrupt leaders. It balances the serious situation with some humor well, making it an entertaining look at Enrons fall.
May 27, 2011
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

One of the better contemporary documentaries I've seen, this film is thorough but accessible, and it's on rock-solid footing, based on the book by journalist Bethany McLean as it is. Even if you're not well-acquainted with the business section of your daily newspaper, you will stay with this one until the end. Enron is a stunning story, and this doc captures it well. What the film does best is this: it answers its own questions. I watched it with my girlfriend, who might be the only person I know that's less business savvy than me, so we paused a few times to discuss. Every time we hit play, the film answered the question that we had just asked. A very conscious and worthwhile film.
September 26, 2010

Super Reviewer

A fast-paced examination of the fall of Enron, this film is certainly a well-made documentary that took me from having absolutely no knowledge to having a pretty good understanding of the greatest corporate scandal in American history. Highly recommended.
July 30, 2010

Super Reviewer

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