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Movie Review

Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control

Reviewed by: Brian Nigro

Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
All Ages
82 min.
Year of Release:

“Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control”? Don’t be fooled by the title. This is as close to a child’s “show and tell” as any movie this year—four men who tinker and tweak with natural law, God’s law, for a living. A circus lion tamer, a gardener, a botanist, an engineer—and, oh yeah, lots of stock footage of old B-movies.

This is truly an “educational” movie with just as much showmanship as “Bill Nye, Science Guy” from children’s television. Considering the deluge of eye candy here, that’s not an exaggeration. Grade-school students looking for science-project inspiration, or high-school students interested in science or engineering, will really enjoy this. (It’s certainly a good book-end piece to the G-rated nature documentary, “Microcosmos,” from last year.) Most adults, though, will simply be enthralled.

A big, big plus: Caleb Sampson’s music here recalls Danny Elfman’s scores from director Tim Burton’s movies like “Mars Attacks”. If it weren’t for the campy, 1950’s B-movie instrumental soundtrack to accompany the assortment of stock footage, “Fast, Cheap” would not be as entertaining. (And, speaking of Tim Burton, anyone who remembers “Edward Scissorhands” will appreciate the gardener’s work.)

This film was funded through the hot-potato National Endowment for the Arts (it is, after all, nearly impossible for non-fiction filmmakers to get funding elsewhere for such a non-commercial project.) Concerned Christians should be aware that evolution is presented as fact in this film (otherwise, there would have been a higher Moral Rating). Other than that, there is nothing else objectionable in “Fast, Cheap.” No political agenda from director Errol Morris… No profanity, nudity, violence, or adult content. Only some scary lion-tamer sequences.

Highly recommended for all ages.

Viewer Comments
For almost 20 years, Errol Morris has been helping to tear down the walls of what a documentary can be. “Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control” is just the latest in his quest to explore the oddities of the world in which we live and trying to place them in a cohesive system. What is most likely interesting to the Christian viewer of his films (and “Fast…” is no exception) is the way Morris looks at existential questions that all Christians should be interested in.

In his films, he’s looked at the origin of the universe (“A Brief History of Time”), the frail wall between life and death (“Gates of Heaven”), and the human attempt at playing the Supreme Judge (“The Thin Blue Line”), issues that few filmmakers look at in today’s modern special effects age.

In “Fast…”, Morris weaves the lives of four people all trying to change the world around them. Watching the issues that they go through—particularly theorizing what might happen when they die—is always intriguing and often memorizing.
—Matthew Prins, age 21