Blame producer Chad Troutwine, also a producer on “Paris Je T'aime,” for bringing together an array of talented documentary filmmakers to try to coax life into material certainly not suited to the medium of film. With his latest “Freakonomics,” a collection of four shorts based on the blockbuster book about the science of economics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, he's hired the right guys and gals to do the wrong job. Morgan Spurlock, Alex Gibney, Eugene Jarecki, and the team of Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing all gamely attack their topics—parenting, cheaters, cause and effect, and incentives, respectively—with gusto, and unfortunately, with widely varying results. And because all these distinct directors were allowed complete creative autonomy, the scattershot “Freakonomics” lacks any tonal cohesion. Each segment is a standalone piece, divided by Seth Gordon's clunky and inorganic interludes and only tangentially related to the larger whole. (In fact, Gordon's introductory snippets—basically showy animation and brief interviews with economist Levitt and journalist Dubner sitting in a staid wood-paneled study—involving real estate, teachers, polio, and the potty training of Levitt's daughter are downright distracting.)
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