I.O.U.S.A. DVD review

A documentary that's all but guaranteed to put the frights up you: Cameron checks out I.O.U.S.A...


Want to really see a scary movie this week? Want to see a film that will chill you more than My Bloody Valentine (and in more dimensions) or horrify you more than Friday The 13th? Enter I.O.U.S.A., a documentary that will put the willies up you like no other work of fiction can possibly try.

If the concept of “fiscal responsibility” does not scare you then the results of its irresponsibility certainly will. I.O.U.S.A. sets out, in no uncertain terms, to outline the consequences of the West’s fascination with credit.

Similar in tone to An Inconvenient Truth, these filmmakers engage in non-partisan politics; these guys aren’t interested in assigning direct blame to any political party, they just want to alert the world and perhaps find a solution. This is perfectly illustrated at the start where we are presented with a montage of previous Presidents giving State Of The Union addresses – all concerning the debt. In a sense, they’re all to blame, though Bush Jnr. (remember him?) does receive some special attention later on as he almost doubled his country’s debt.

The message is strong and clear and incredibly worthy with many referring to a nuclear strike being the only thing more devastating than the oncoming storm of the financial meltdown (which has already begun). Facts and figures are presented but, like Al Gore’s film, the style is dry and Robert Bixby, one of the guys behind the Fiscal Wake Up Tour, admits the subject is “not sexy.”

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This is reflected in the rather pedestrian way in which events unfold. I.O.U.S.A. is stylish in its graphic representations but how this will engage the younger viewer remains to be seen. It feels incredibly educational in tone (no bad thing) and should be shown in schools across the globe.

There’s a moment in this piece where we are presented with a list of “World Trade Imbalances”. The States finish “dead last”, which is rueful in itself, but sitting second from this deathly position is good old Blighty. Yup, everything discussed in this film is applicable to the UK – so we shouldn’t just laugh it off as an American problem. It’s our problem too, though I.O.U.K. doesn’t quite have the same ring.

I.O.U.S.A. does its job, ringing the alarm bells but also demonstrating how America got where it is. It is thankfully un-opiniated and serves as a “wake up” for the world as I just stated, it’s not just their problem. The main message was summed up by a clip from Saturday Night Live where the fiscal advice was simply “Don’t Buy Stuff You Can’t Afford.” Wise words, indeed.

Extras Though this film is all about frugality, the makers should have thought a little bit more about the product – there’s no extras. Which is a pity because this film will strike interest and perhaps some extra info (like the kind you can find on their website) would have been most welcome.


3 stars
Extras: None


3 out of 5