The controversy over intelligent design is a subject that tends to either bore people to tears, or send them immediately into an indignant fury, depending on their political interest and leanings. It comes, then, as a welcome surprise that Flock of Dodos: The Evolution-Intelligent Design Circus is so utterly engaging. Directed by marine biologist-turned-filmmaker Randy Olson, the film takes a casual, humorous approach to the controversy that draws the audience in while never failing to respect its subject.

Olson himself plays a central role in the film, and his winning, gregarious personality is a key to its success, as he interviews majors players on both sides of the intelligent design controversy (as well as his own incredibly vivacious mother, Muffy “Moose” Olson). Despite his science background (he has a degree in evolutionary biology), Olson is as open with intelligent design advocates as he is those on the other side of the issue, and the ease he finds in relating to the former is presented as both troubling and amusing. In Flock of Dodos, supporters of intelligent design come across as straight-forward, friendly people. Evolutionists, on the other hand, tend towards arrogance and intellectual elitism, making it difficult for even one of their own to relate to them. When Olson gathers a group of scientists with whom he played poker in graduate school for another game, they are full of bluster, and obsessed with being “right,” instead of trying to understand their opposition.