Thursday, June 25, 2009

Maxed Out Movie? Book's Better

I was never a particularly big fan of James Scurlock's documentary movie Maxed Out. It was worth watching, I suppose. But in my opinion it veered too far into the realm of banker-bashing, and hardly set foot in the land of consumer responsibility (or lack thereof).

In my quickie Maxed Out movie review, I ended with: "Netflix can have this one back tomorrow ... without so much as a second viewing on my part." While it's been a couple of years since that writing (almost to the day, actually), I'm pretty sure I held to that declaration, and never watched Maxed Out again.

So when I was walking through Barnes & Noble a few weeks ago, I almost bypassed the CD audiobook copy of Maxed Out languishing in the bargain bin. Its cost was under $7; that, plus the fact that I've lately been looking for a few audiobook to liven my commute, convinced me to overlook my "not-so-impressed" impressions of the movie and fork over for the audiobook version.

In a nutshell: The audiobook is way better. (Heck, I've almost completed my second listen.)

It's still not a great work of nonfiction. As one Amazon reviewer wrote:

While the book was somewhat entertaining, overall his anti-capitalist message and patronizing attitude were unbearable. This book is recommended only to those who live to blame others for their mistakes and misfortunes.

Yeah, I got some of that, too. And it chaps me.

But my interpretations of the audiobook's more-detailed stories came in much more equitably than they did for the movie — that here, Scurlock presented and placed responsibility for our nation's credit dependence at least moderately on the consumers who'd signed on the bottom line. Now, perhaps I was hearing what I wanted to hear: that when you look hard enough, there's plenty of blame to go around.

But after two readings, my distinct impression is still that the book/audiobook version of Maxed Out is a not only a much more detailed write-up than its widescreen sibling, but a more balanced offering as well. I'm glad for that.

Where I might give Maxed Out (the movie) three stars on a ten-star scale, I'd likely give Maxed Out (the audiobook) seven stars.

So if you're like me, and are always on the lookout for discounted (and entertaining!) audiobooks, Maxed Out might be worth the $7 or $10 you can now pick it up for. I was pleasantly surprised!

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— Posted by Michael @ 8:15 AM


I just watched the movie via Netflix, and I thought it was pretty good. I also checked out the audiobook from the library, and if it's even better as you say, then I'm in for a treat.

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Thoughts on my personal finances, goals, experiences, motivations, and accomplishments (or lack thereof).

My financial life began turning around when I took responsibility for it.
— Dave Ramsey


Start (2005-12): ~$21,900
Currently: $0
[About Our Debt Paydown]


Savings Goal: $15,000
Currently: ~$15,115
[About Our Liquid Savings Goal]