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Freakonomics (2010)



Average Rating: 6/10
Reviews Counted: 62
Fresh: 40 | Rotten: 22

More disjointed and less compelling than the book it's based on, Freakonomics isn't quite as entertaining or educational as it should be.


Average Rating: 5.8/10
Critic Reviews: 15
Fresh: 10 | Rotten: 5

More disjointed and less compelling than the book it's based on, Freakonomics isn't quite as entertaining or educational as it should be.



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Average Rating: 3.4/5
User Ratings: 5,818

My Rating

Movie Info

FREAKONOMICS is the highly anticipated film version of the phenomenally bestselling book about incentives-based thinking by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. Like the book, the film examines human behavior with provocative and sometimes hilarious case studies, bringing together a dream team of filmmakers responsible for some of the most acclaimed and entertaining documentaries in recent years: Academy Award (R) winner Alex Gibney (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, Casino Jack and the United


Documentary, Special Interest


Jan 18, 2011


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All Critics (63) | Top Critics (16) | Fresh (40) | Rotten (22) | DVD (1)

Freakonomics is, much like the book that spawned it, a breezy entertainment that leaves you with a lot to think about.

October 20, 2010 Full Review Source: Miami Herald
Miami Herald
Top Critic IconTop Critic

When this freakumentary hooks up with Urail King, it gets an A.

October 12, 2010 Full Review Source: TIME Magazine
TIME Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The film is provocative but also scattershot and not nearly as conclusive as it pretends to be.

October 8, 2010 Full Review Source: Christian Science Monitor
Christian Science Monitor
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Some parts of the movie are more satisfying and intriguing than others, but there are enough surprising and non-intuitive revelations that even the most jaded viewer will likely learn a thing or two.

October 2, 2010 Full Review Source: ReelViews
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The movie version of Freakonomics functions as a reasonably effective trailer, but for a book whose moment has already passed.

October 1, 2010 Full Review Source: NPR
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Amiably passes the time.

October 1, 2010 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The limited time given to each of the short films means that there is little opportunity to get really down and dirty with the number-crunching, so that for every aspect that is fascinating there is an attendant frustration.

January 16, 2011 Full Review Source: Eye for Film
Eye for Film

A lighthearted plea to the audience to try to think outside the box when it comes to matters of causality.

January 7, 2011 Full Review Source: Window to the Movies
Window to the Movies

A real hodgepodge of ideas and themes, directed by six different directors, it lacks cohesion. It does, however, have some interesting segments.

December 30, 2010 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

Moderately interesting documentary.

December 9, 2010 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews


December 5, 2010 Full Review Source: News of the World
News of the World

Levitt and Dubner often talk about the importance of giving incentives to customers. It's not clear if this film gives quite enough of them to those people who've already bought the book.

December 2, 2010 Full Review Source: Daily Telegraph
Daily Telegraph

Merely proves that a batch of bite-sized featurettes does not automatically add up to a satisfying meal.

December 2, 2010 Full Review Source: Guardian
Guardian enjoyable, lightweight affair that plays like the pilot for a premium cable series - something like a less raucous version of the Penn & Teller's Showtime series

November 28, 2010 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

... somewhere between ... an illustrated, freshman-level lecture by a superstar professor and ... a brainy but popular television anthology show.

October 22, 2010 Full Review Source: Playback:stl

On this take from a statistician whose days are, um, numbered: the docu-omnibus engages, as we wonder what the next filmmaker might do. Proving Levitt's theory that incentives do indeed matter.

October 15, 2010 Full Review Source: Indie Movies Online
Indie Movies Online

If you didn't read the book, you can get a less-satisfying version of it here, but you'd be better off hitting the book. And if you did read the book, the movie is superfluous.

October 15, 2010 Full Review Source: St. Paul Pioneer Press
St. Paul Pioneer Press

The film makes some potentially dull material come to life, but it's a tad pleased with itself for delivering that small gift.

October 14, 2010 Full Review Source: Oregonian

It's intellectual snack food, satisfying for a little while but always leaving you hungry for more.

October 8, 2010 | Comments (2)
Kansas City Star

This 93-minute collection of short films finds an innovative way to pursue trivial data. It makes the often vague and elusive subject of economics interesting. It should encourage more viewers to read the book.

October 8, 2010 Full Review Source: Entertainment Spectrum
Entertainment Spectrum

Blame producer Chad Troutwine for bringing together an array of talented documentary filmmakers to try to coax life into material certainly not suited to the medium of film.

October 7, 2010 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

An unusual cinematic experiment that comes off as a hit-and-miss collection of appetizers.

October 4, 2010 Full Review Source: Shared Darkness
Shared Darkness

A mixed bag...often comes across as simply cute, pushing very hard to too little effect.

October 4, 2010 Full Review Source: One Guy's Opinion
One Guy's Opinion

Audience Reviews for Freakonomics

Economics is a harsh subject to swallow, much like the greens your mother forced down your throat during childhood. Still, the case studies presented by a variety of Academy Award nominated directors and writers was at least entertaining and educational in the same as Sesame Street. Society is asked the simple questions: Does a name matter when comparing economic standing? Can children be bribed to get good grades? Is sumo wrestling a fixed competitive sport? The voice was definitely wry, with commentary by the authors of the book it's based upon; Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. Interesting, but at times I felt like I was bungling through another high school econ. exam.
March 31, 2011

Super Reviewer

Interesting concepts discussed, but too much time was spent on the corruption of Sumo and the subtitles for that section were poorly done.
February 27, 2011

Super Reviewer

This documentary is for people who have neglected to read the book. It features four chapters from the book which were picked up by different directors and expanded for the film. In terms of what Levitt and Dubner bring to the screen, the film is worth 5 stars in my book. All they ask if for the people of the world to ask new questions about certain phenomenons in our world and they give it to the viewer in a tangible and intriguing way. However, we are not here to review their information, we are here to review the film.
The first segment in the film is directed by Morgan Spurlock, whose likability eludes me. While he deserves credit for using his body as a laboratory for his film Supersize Me, I think this segment proves my point that he is better suited for making after school specials than major films.
He especially looks amateur when Alex Gibney's section of the film comes on next. His segment is executed with the care that the subject requires and his visual storytelling is superior by leaps and bounds.
While the last two segments are very interesting, they feel a bit premature. It seemed as though the producers had two strong segments and they put in the final two so they could fill 90 minutes.
Again, the information is there and overall this piece came together fairly well. If only Gibney would have produced all of the segments and excised the underdeveloped segments, then this movie would have been a stunning achievement.
February 24, 2011
Reid Volk

Super Reviewer

As a disciple of the freakonomics school of thought, I thoroughly enjoyed this refresher and hope it brings the message to a wider audience. All the directors add visual flair to bring the principles to life but the material sells itself. Incentives drive the world.
February 13, 2011
Gordon A

Super Reviewer

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