Maxed Out

With sobering facts and black humor, this thought-provoking documentary unveils the consequences of our collective addiction to debt -- including its contribution to the vanishing act of a once-robust American middle class. Investigating both Americans' personal debt and the government's growing national debt, the film explores the staggering financial burden we live with every day and sheds light on the contemporary financial industry.
Netflix Rating: 3.5
Rotten Tomatoes: Fresh 88%
Critics' score: 88   Audience score: 50   Rotten Tomatoes page
Top Rotten Tomatoes Critics

This muckraking documentary on America's personal-debt crisis lays bare the predatory practices of credit card companies and the Bush administration's cozy relationship with the financial services industry. full review

J. R. Jones, Chicago Reader

Maxed Out focuses on how much we're in hock without ever really wondering why we need to buy. full review

Ty Burr, Boston Globe

This scattershot exposé of usurious banking practices examines why the most vulnerable segment of society is victimized by the lending industry and finds a simple answer: It's obscenely profitable.

Stephen Holden, New York Times

Maxed Out exposes the credit card sham for what it is, and fingers the hustlers who perpetuate it. full review

Terry Lawson, Detroit Free Press

To maximize your return on this useful report, sit through the end credits where Spurlock deposits some of his best material. full review

Bill Stamets, Chicago Sun-Times

Maxed Out doesn't really offer solutions, probably because there are none. But it does a great job of showing how the rich get richer and the poor foot the bill, plus interest.

Richard Roeper, Ebert & Roeper

If your outrage glands need a workout, be sure to see Maxed Out, a muckraking, emotionally powerful, wickedly entertaining documentary on the dreary-sounding topic of consumer debt.

Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune

Maxed Out, while occasionally muddled in its financial details, presents a more-accurate-than-not vision of a nation that is starting to look like a candidate for rehab, on both an individual and a national level, for its addiction to debt. full review

Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly

While the documentary does a credible job of pointing out the magnitude of the problem, it skirts the issue of what can be done about it and by whom. full review

Ruthe Stein, San Francisco Chronicle

All the film provides is this bulletin: Lefties are angry about the things Lefties are angry about, chiefly corporate profits. full review

Kyle Smith, New York Post

James Scurlock's often riveting documentary is likely to leave you outraged over the manipulative greed of America's banks and credit card firms. full review

Elizabeth Weitzman, New York Daily News

James Scurlock's documentary serves up cautionary tales of epic abuse, though the overall tone is faux cheerful and sometimes genuinely entertaining, especially in the use of clips from an old educational film that looks too fatuous to be faux. full review

Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal

Scurlock does well to counter the more dire aspects of the film with a razor-sharp sense of humor. full review

Kevin Crust, Los Angeles Times

A film all high school seniors should see. And their parents. And their siblings, neighbors, best friends and acquaintances. You should see it, too. full review

Ann Hornaday, Washington Post

James Scurlock's Maxed Out takes a long-overdue swipe at the shamelessly predatory tactics of the credit-card and home-mortgage industries, which are feeding on the most economically vulnerable members of our society.

Andrew Sarris, New York Observer

A slapdash piece of work totally indebted to second-hand rhetorical strategies (the '50s educational film, glib Bush-bashing) and threadbare indignation. full review

Nathan Lee, Village Voice

Given that James D. Scurlock's documentary Maxed Out is a resolutely uncinematic progression of talking heads -- and they're talking about a subject most of us would rather not even think about -- it's a remarkably entertaining film. full review

Andrew O'Hehir,

Oh, the stories Scurlock tells. full review

David Edelstein, New York Magazine

Intelligent, informative and unusually entertaining docudocu errs only when it yanks too insistently on heartstrings. full review

Joe Leydon, Variety
Similars Available on Instant
  • Release Year: 2006
  • MPAA Rating: NR
  • Runtime: 87 min
  • Available From: Dec 20, 2008
  • Queued by: 281 people
Directed By
James D. Scurlock

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