Fast, Cheap and Out of Control is a fascinating documentary by Errol Morris. In an almost surreal style, it focuses on four very different men, and is able to draw conclusions about society at large.
Dave Hoover is a professional wild animal trainer, George Mendonca is a topiary gardener, Rodney Brooks is a robot scientist, and Ray Mendez is a specialist in the behavior of the naked mole rat.
What do these four professionals have in common? Very little, it seems on the outset. Yet, throughout Errol Morris’ lyrical documentary, parallels emerge, though they’re never literally stated.
All four men work with animals, in a way, though George Mendonca’s and Rodney Brooks’ animals aren’t actually animals. Both Mendez and Brooks study how the interaction of individuals creates something larger than the whole. Both Hoover and Mendonca shape nature into unnatural ways for the delightment of others.
In their own obsessive ways, each man reveals a little bit about life, in either the subject of his obsession, or in the way he pursues it.
The documentary is shot in an unusual style, intercutting the interviews with stylistic shots of each man’s profession, along with clips of old movie serials and shots of the circus. The interviews are not placed in a linear order, but flow in a stream-of-consciousness structure. However, the documentary doesn’t suffer from this unique style. Instead, the seemingly haphazard style allows you to draw parallels which otherwise might have remained hidden.
With a captivating assemblage of four very interesting people, all-encompassing themes, and a unique, visually interesting style, Fast, Cheap and Out of Control is a remarkable documentary that engages both your mind and your senses.