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Review byMatthew Turner14/11/2008

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 85 mins

Well made, informative and genuinely terrifying documentary, in which the use of humour can't quite diminish the spectre of doom and gloom.

What's it all about?
Directed by Patrick Creadon, I.O.U.S.A. seeks to do for the U.S. financial crisis what Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth did for global warming. Using a bewildering array of charts, graphs, statistics and talking heads, the film traces the rise of the national debt (which currently stands at a staggering 10 trillion dollars) throughout American history before ramming home the bleakness of America's fiscal future in no uncertain terms.

The film's unlikely heroes are former U.S. Comptroller General David Walker and Concord Coalition executive director Robert Bixby, who travel round the country on a Fiscal Wake-Up Tour in the months before the election. Walker and Bixby form a large part of the film, but Creadon also includes archive footage, animated inserts, stop-in-the-street interviews with members of the public, news reports and clips from various comedy shows.

The Good
It should be noted that the film was made before the current economic crisis was splashed all over the news, which gives a lot of credibility to Creadon, Walker and Bixby. However, the film also serves as a shocking indictment of just how oblivious the media were at the time – for example, a local news item on the Fiscal Wake-Up Tour gets bumped for a story about a man who swallowed a diamond.

The Great
The film is extremely informative, identifying four main problem areas and pointing out that millions of Baby Boomers are about to start qualifying for pensions and healthcare, which will make an already disastrous situation even worse. Like An Inconvenient Truth, it also offers a list of things you can do to help, although this essentially amounts to 1) accept that taxes will have to rise and 2) don't buy things you can't afford (an amusing Saturday Night Live sketch to this effect is repeated throughout the film).

Worth seeing?
I.O.U.S.A. is a well made, informative documentary that'll make you think twice about using your credit card.

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Content updated: 16/12/2018 14:42

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