Do you find it strange that non-fiction books aren't adapted very often into documentaries? Recently, we've seen a few such films that worked really well as translated, including Man on Wire and Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room. Compared to fiction, however, non-fiction best-sellers are not as regularly turned into feature films. We could think the reason is that documentaries are best when they follow a story in real time, as the events occur. But not all do this, and certainly neither of those docs based on books mentioned do so. Yet they're still quality works.
Freakonomics, which is based on the hugely popular book by economist Steven Levitt and journalist Stephen J. Dubner, offers some reason for why and how a non-fiction literary work should not be adapted. It is a mixed bag, though, in that it oftentimes is successful, mainly when it is more inspired by the source rather than simply based upon it.
The reason that Freakonomics is so up and down is partly due to the fact that it's an anthology film made up of segments directed by different "all-star" documentarians. These include Oscar-winner Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side), Oscar-nominees Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) and Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (Jesus Camp) and acclaimed filmmakers Eugene Jarecki (Why We Fight) and Seth Gordon (King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters). One of the film's producers, Chad Troutwine, previously worked on the fiction anthology Paris, je t'aime, and like that, as well as a majority of anthology films, there is at least one bad apple in the bunch.