Laughing at corporate crime

Matt Damon’s comedic turn as an agri-business executive who goes to the FBI with the inside scoop on his employer’s criminal wrongdoing definitely isn’t your “father’s whistleblower movie.”

Matt Damon stars as Mark Whitacre in a scene from

TORONTO — Matt Damon’s comedic turn as an agri-business executive who goes to the FBI with the inside scoop on his employer’s criminal wrongdoing definitely isn’t your “father’s whistleblower movie.”

After all, tales of true-life corporate crime are rarely rolled out as comedies.

The Informant! follows the exploits of Mark Whitacre, who in the 1990s helped expose his company’s involvement in a global price-fixing scheme involving animal feed. It’s based on a non-fiction book that director Steven Soderbergh decided should play onscreen as a comedy, a choice both the star and director knew would be a challenge.

“(Soderbergh) called me up and said, ‘Look, The Insider’s made — that movie’s great, we just can’t go ape (it),’ ” Damon said in an interview at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Soderbergh wanted to do something different, more of a comedy, Damon said.

“You’re aiming at a smaller target with that tone, and you need a director who is just on it, because it’s all down to him.”

That approach gives The Informant! a feel that Soderbergh concedes may have left test audiences somewhat confused.

“I thought, people just aren’t getting that it’s OK to laugh,” the amiable director said during a separate interview, in which he volunteered that test scores from all three screenings came in at a “terrible” 55.

“This is not The Insider. This is not your father’s whistleblower movie.”

Turning Whitacre’s story into a comedy could not have been “further from our minds” when the rights to Kurt Eichenwald’s book were secured, Soderbergh said.

“It really was by defining what we didn’t want it to be that we came to find out what it ought to be,” he said. “It seemed to have one of the best building blocks for a comedy that you can have, which is the lie that escalates. There’s a lot of classic comedies that use that as their premise.”

Soderbergh is known for blockbusters like “Ocean’s Eleven,” its sequels and the critically acclaimed “Traffic,” which won four Oscars. He also has a reputation for experimentation in such films as “Full Frontal” and “The Girlfriend Experience.”

Damon, who also starred in the “Ocean’s” films, said he has complete trust in Soderbergh’s instincts.

“It was just having somebody there the entire time who I trust implicitly, creatively, so I can allow myself to go in all these different directions and know he’s there, and he’ll always shepherd me back onto the right path,” he said.

“When you feel like you’re in such sure hands it becomes really fun to work.”

Damon, the bankable star of the “Bourne” trilogy, said that since Soderbergh made the film for just $22 million they were free to take whatever approach they wanted.

“Tonally this movie is unique, so you want to be left alone,” Damon said.

“The Informant!” opens in Canadian theatres Friday.

Just Posted

PHOTO: Rainbow Block Party at Red Deer’s West Park

The Trans and Non-Binary Aid Society hosted a Rainbow Block Party at… Continue reading

Blood donations needed in Central Alberta: Canadian Blood Services

357 donors are needed before Aug. 26 at the Red Deer clinic

WATCH: Annual Family Picnic at Central Spray and Play

Blue Grass Sod Farms Ltd. held the Annual Family Picnic at the… Continue reading

Photos: Smoky conditions in Red Deer

Red Deer and area is experiencing high risk air quality.See related: Red… Continue reading

Committee to decide how millions in Humboldt Broncos donations are split

SASKATOON — Lawyers for the families of some of those who died… Continue reading

Boy, 11, dies after being struck by payloader on southern Alberta ranch

BOW ISLAND, Alta. — A boy has died after an accident on… Continue reading

Liberals look at creating federal holiday to mark legacy of residential schools

OTTAWA — The federal Liberal government wants to establish a holiday to… Continue reading

Thousands of police officers expected at regimental funeral in Fredericton

FREDERICTON — Thousands of police officers and first responders from across the… Continue reading

B.C. declares state of emergency over wildfires

VICTORIA — The British Columbia government has declared a provincial state of… Continue reading

As service refusals make headlines, experts say businesses usually in the wrong

Two Canadian businesses that recently made headlines for refusing customers have learned… Continue reading

Irregular asylum claims increased in July after two months of decline

OTTAWA — The number of irregular border crossers in Canada went up… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month