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I.O.U.S.A. Review

By David Kempler

I'll Gladly Pay You Tuesday for a Hamburger Today

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Patrick Creadon, the director of "Wordplay", a light documentary romp through a contest involving folks tackling the New York Times Sunday Crossword Puzzle, is back this time with "I.O.U.S.A.", a film that is the polar opposite in terms of mood. "I.O.U.S.A." is an incredibly somber examination of the current economic crisis that is hanging over America like a black cloud signaling impending doom in a Steven Spielberg epic. Specifically, its focus is on the negative flow of cash in and out of America and in its citizens' quickly emptying pockets.

Creadon has fashioned a very measured, fact-based examination, using number-crunching and loads of graphics that took me back in time to watching films projected on the blackboard in 3rd grade because even though this is a very important topic to tackle, it is as dry as a day in the desert without a stop at an oasis. Creadon has assembled all of the heavy hitters in government and in the financial community. Not a single person interviewed here is even vaguely optimistic about the future economic well-being of the United States. Some of them are downright morose. It wouldn't have been altogether shocking to see one of the talking heads jump out a window during filming,

"I.O.U.S.A." talks to us about the Fiscal Wake-Up Tour conducted by U.S. Comptroller General David Walker and Concord Coalition Director Robert Bixby, who are at the forefront of sounding the alarm sirens of the impending economic apocalypse. It's all pretty simple at its core. America and its citizens have been spending more than has been coming in. Warren Buffett shows us a cartoon rendition of how money is constantly leaving, leaving us with the sole option of printing more cash. You don't have to be a genius of economics to get that this strategy is not a sound long-term plan. "I.O.U.S.A." is based on the book "Empire of Debt" by Addison Wiggin and William Bonner. Wiggin co-wrote the film and served as executive producer.

The moral of the story is that the sky will be falling even quicker and harder unless we reverse course in our fiscal policy. It also makes it pretty clear that that is unlikely to occur. Roughly translated, that means we can count on America going the way of the Roman Empire and the British Empire. The message here is solid. The presentation is dry, at times incredibly boring, and always depressing. If you want to learn, "I.O.U.S.A." is a good primer on our economic state. If you want to be entertained and not glaze over, you're probably going to be vastly disappointed. You can bank on it.

What did you think?

Movie title I.O.U.S.A.
Release year 2008
MPAA Rating PG
Our rating
Summary Informative but ultimately dry-as-sand documentary about America's fiscal woes.
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