Fast, Cheap and Out of Control

Posted by barb on Sep 6, 2003 in Movies |

2/5 stars

What an odd documentary.

Fast, Cheap and Out of Control is a documentary featuring four men from very different and somewhat eccentric fields. Dave Hoover is a wild animal trainer, George Mendonca is a topiary gardener, Ray Mendez is a mole-rat specialist, and Rodney Brooks is a robotics scientist. I connected most, of course, with the robotics scientist — since he was a bit out of touch in similar ways to me. The wild animal trainer rubbed me the wrong way, because of my feelings about using wild animals purely for our entertainment.

I’m pretty sure that the documentary was trying to make connections between these disparate-seeming men. While I will agree that they were all eccentrics, any other connection was lost on me. By themselves, the stories of these men were quite interesting — how they got into their chosen field, what accomplishments they’ve made, and how their field will be perpetuated (or not perpetuated) through future generations. However, it’s beyond me why these four in particular were chosen and why their stories were told as an intertwined narrative.

Also, I was confused by the origin of the title. Brooks mentions it as a title to a paper submitted to the Planetary Society, in which he proposes to use armies of very small robots to explore the planets in our solar system. However, fast, cheap and out-of-control are not adjectives that I would use to describe any of the subjects of the film.

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