Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005)
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Critic Reviews for Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room
Alex Gibney takes a notorious tale of corporate greed and plays it as Greek tragedy, Texas-style.
Deft, entertaining and infuriating documentary about one of the most egregious cases of corporate corruption in American history.
A meticulously researched and ably handled chronicle of one of the largest corporate scandals in American history.
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.
It's not an indictment, so much. It's more like a mirror.
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.
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.
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.
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