Werner Herzog, Morgan Spurlock & Other Stars Explain Economic Theory in 20 Short Films

Mor­gan Spur­lock is a film­mak­er who has long found catchy ways of get­ting his point across. For his break­out movie, Super Size Me (avail­able on Hulu), he sought to illus­trate just how tru­ly awful fast food is for you by sub­sist­ing sole­ly on McDonald’s for a month. His diet lit­er­al­ly almost killed him. Not long after the movie came out, McDonald’s start­ed adding more healthy options to its menu. In POM Won­der­ful Presents: The Great­est Movie Ever Sold, Spur­lock looked to make a doc­u­men­tary about prod­uct place­ment in movies by financ­ing the doc entire­ly through prod­uct place­ment. (That movie gets pret­ty meta fast.)

And most recent­ly, Spur­lock has launched We The Econ­o­my: 20 Short Films You Can’t Afford To Miss. As you might sur­mise, the series tries to explain eco­nom­ics to the mass­es by releas­ing 20 short films made by a host of dif­fer­ent stars and film­mak­ers, includ­ing Amy Poehler, Tony Hale, Sarah Sil­ver­man and Maya. The whole project will be released in the­aters and on VOD but the shorts have also been released in advance on Youtube. You can watch Spurlock’s seg­ment, called “Cave-o-nomics,” above. Seek­ing to answer the ques­tion “What is an econ­o­my?” Spur­lock dress­es up as a cave­man strug­gling to increase his mate­r­i­al wealth by swap­ping spears for meat.

The clear stand out of the bunch, how­ev­er, is Ramin Bahrani’s “Lemon­ade War.” Baha­mi tack­les the poten­tial­ly drea­ry issue of busi­ness reg­u­la­tion by telling a tale of two rival lemon­ade stands. One is run by a cor­rupt slob – played by Pat­ton Oswalt — and the oth­er is run by a whip smart ten-year-old girl. Though the girl doesn’t have the mon­ey or con­nec­tions that her rival has, she more than makes up for it with mox­ie and busi­ness acu­men. This, sad­ly, proves to be not enough. When she calls the gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tor about some of her rival’s tru­ly unhy­gien­ic prac­tices, she dis­cov­ers the reg­u­la­tor is in her competition’s pock­et and soon she’s dri­ven out of busi­ness. Things look hope­less for her until a neigh­bor­hood hero, played by none oth­er than Wern­er Her­zog (!), comes to her res­cue. With the lit­tle girl in tow, he con­fronts the slob and reg­u­la­tor with his trade­mark malev­o­lent Teu­ton­ic lilt. “If Mr. Smith could go to Wash­ing­ton today,” he declares, “he would fil­i­buster you back into your big bang worm­hole you have slith­ered out of.” The two sim­ply cow­er in the face of Herzog’s Old Tes­ta­ment wrath. If only Her­zog could deliv­er sim­i­lar fusil­lades against the board of Gold­man Sachs.

You can watch more seg­ments of We The Econ­o­my here — or find them in our col­lec­tion, 4,000+ Free Movies Online: Great Clas­sics, Indies, Noir, West­erns, Doc­u­men­taries & More.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch Mor­gan Spurlock’s Doc­u­men­tary on the 15-Year-Old Who Invent­ed a New Way to Detect Ear­ly Stage Pan­cre­at­ic Can­cer

Mor­gan Spur­lock: The Great­est TED Talk Ever Sold

Free Online Eco­nom­ics Cours­es

The His­to­ry of Eco­nom­ics & Eco­nom­ic The­o­ry Explained with Comics, Start­ing with Adam Smith

Jonathan Crow is a Los Ange­les-based writer and film­mak­er whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hol­ly­wood Reporter, and oth­er pub­li­ca­tions. You can fol­low him at @jonccrow. And check out his blog Veep­to­pus, fea­tur­ing lots of pic­tures of vice pres­i­dents with octo­pus­es on their heads.  The Veep­to­pus store is here.

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