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

Carjacking victim would stop to help again

Springbrook woman has some sympathy for carjacker

Eight arrested in RCMP stolen vehicle operation

Six stolen vehicles recovered and dozens of charges laid

Red Deer’s crisis line workers are busy dealing with multiple emergencies

Callers need everything from mental health counselling to their basic needs met

Restaurant Brands International announces executive changes and raises dividend

TORONTO — Restaurant Brands International Inc. raised its dividend as it announced… Continue reading

2-for-1: Total lunar eclipse comes with supermoon bonus

On Sunday night, the moon, Earth and sun lined up to create the eclipse, which was visible throughout North and South America

Edmonton Oilers fire general manager Peter Chiarelli: reports

EDMONTON — Peter Chiarelli has been fired as general manager of the… Continue reading

Canadian Milos Raonic has Australian Open run end in quarterfinals

MELBOURNE, Australia — Canadian Milos Raonic is done at the Australian Open… Continue reading

$20K pay gap between women, men in Canadian tech jobs

The report defines tech workers as people either producing or making extensive use of technology, regardless of industry

Two Quebec short-film directors mark first Oscar nominations together

TORONTO — Two Quebec filmmakers celebrated in solidarity on Tuesday after learning… Continue reading

Toronto illustrator teams up with Paul McCartney on children’s book

Toronto-based illustrator Kathryn Durst says she’s found a true collaborator in Paul… Continue reading

Catholic student says he didn’t disrespect Native American

Many saw the white teenagers, who had travelled to Washington for an anti-abortion rally, appearing to mock the Native Americans

Backlund scores OT winner for Calgary Flames in 3-2 win over Carolina Hurricanes

Flames 3, Hurricanes 2 (OT) CALGARY — Mikael Backlund scored 15 seconds… Continue reading

Glendening’s two-goal performance leads Red Wings past Oilers 3-2

Red Wings 3, Oilers 2 EDMONTON — Luke Glendening had a pair… Continue reading

Most Read