Freakonomics – The Movie (The Review)

University of Chicago professor Stephen Levitt and journalist Stephen Dubner have hit gold with their two books and New York Times column “Freakonomics”.  So, why not try a movie?

I like this movie.  The movie exposes the thought process of a modern economist and this is a great thing.  The theme of the movie is the theme of human life in a society – incentives matter.  In fact, it goes even deeper…  Incentives matter but trying to create the proper incentives to get the desired outcome is the challenge.

My favorite story of the movie is the study of Chicago Heights, IL and their school system.  The University of Chicago funded a study to see if they could buy better grades and created incentives for the students to earn cash.  In fact, if a student maintained a “C” or better, they would get a payment of $50 at the end of the month.  The kicker is that each student that qualifies is also entered a lottery for a possible $500.  Fanfare also surrounded the event.  It looks like they had a pizza party for all involved and the winner rode home in a limousine.

So, how did it work?  Well, that would be called a spoiler.  : )

It is interesting, though.  My appreciation of teachers and their challenges is renewed by this story.

If I could offer some criticism about the movie, it is not aimed at the movie or material.  My criticism is to an unknown television network.  This should be a yearly television series on a television network.   Both writers are interesting and can hold their own on camera.

What I hope will happen with the commercial release of this movie is that people, who ordinarily will not read a book like “Freakonomics”, will tune in to watch.  The subjects are worthy of study and the processes are important.

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About Christopher Hessenflow

Christopher Hessenflow is a financial planner in the Chicago area. He works with all sorts of people who are much more interesting than he is. He enjoys his career which lends him time to think and, sometimes, be creative. Chip was born bald.
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