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Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005 documentary) [Archive] - DVD Talk Forum
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View Full Version : Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005 documentary)

09-03-09, 10:24 AM
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005 documentary)

Trailer: http://www.spike.com/video/enron-smartest-guys/2668896

Wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enron:_The_Smartest_Guys_in_the_Room

Rotten Tomatoes reviews (97% fresh):

Viewable online for NetFlix subscribers:


09-03-09, 10:27 AM
I can't get over how cute Bethany McLean is.

09-03-09, 03:51 PM
Saw it. They were scumbags.

Loved the phonecalls of the two workers saying "burn baby burn" over California. Nice people.

09-03-09, 06:35 PM
I now think it's eerily prophetic. That line someone said about Enron taking the long established power industry and turning it into a casino could be applied to the Wall Street banks taking the long established home mortgage industry and turning that into a casino.

The guys who made this really should make one about Wall Street.

09-04-09, 03:10 AM
I like how this movie was very focused and factual, and didn't try to demonize capitalism.

09-04-09, 10:25 PM
I now think it's eerily prophetic. That line someone said about Enron taking the long established power industry and turning it into a casino could be applied to the Wall Street banks taking the long established home mortgage industry and turning that into a casino.

The guys who made this really should make one about Wall Street.

Just wait 'til Waxman-Markey takes it national, baby! :up:

Cap and trade was pretty much invented by Enron.

09-10-09, 09:43 AM
The surprising thing about this was not necessarily how it all went down (since that has been well publicized elsewhere), but how unapologetically evil some of the top players were.

09-16-09, 04:07 PM
Here's the article that sparked the movie


09-28-09, 03:51 PM
This was easily one of the most disturbing films I have ever seen. So much evil, it's scary...

11-18-09, 04:00 PM
I finally saw this last weekend. It really is a great film, and the story is captivating. The whole situation with the California energy deregulation was pretty shocking. These traders were actually calling power plants and telling them to go offline so as to increase the cost of electricity!? Truly amazing that so many people were on board with this shit. But like one of the traders said, if they kept doing it they'd be retired by 30 - that's a pretty powerful motivator.

Watching Ken Lay get up in front of thousands of employees and lie to their faces was something else.

03-02-10, 11:01 AM
I have mixed feelings about this movie. On one hand, yes the leaders of Enron were stright-up con men (especially Fastow).

On the other hand, I have some reservations:

1. I don't have too much sympathy for people who invested all of their money in Enron without having the faintest idea how the company operated or how it actually made money. With Enron, there's simply no way that an average Joe investor could take a look at their financial statements and have a good understanding of what was happening at the company or even how their business model worked. Also, diversification is a basic principle of small-time investing, anyone who invested their entire nest egg in Enron was an idiot. I generally can't stand it when grown adults are painted as babe-in-the-woods innocents cruely duped by mustache-twisting villains. It seems to me that these people were also seduced by the same visions of endless riches built on nothing that the Enron brass fell in for.

2. A more technical point: the film demonizes GAAP account rules by painting "mark-to-market" accounting as a fast-and-loose, anything-goes standard. It does this without presenting any alternative or even explaining why mark-to-market is worse than other ways of valuing assets. As an accountant, I got the sense that the filmakers didn't have the slightest idea of what they were talking about. Since accounting is central to the Enron story, this is not a minor point. The film tries to expand the Enron case into more general points about US accounting standards and fails is doing so.

03-03-10, 03:25 AM
I've never seen the film, but I did have to write a report about Enron for my senior-year auditing class when I was in college.

Hiro, In response to your points, since Enron was a publicly-traded company, its financial statements were supposed to be prepared to a very specific standard and with a high degree of transparency. The financial statements as prepared were fraudulent, there can be no excuse for that.

Some people who were apparently not in on the scam did very well by Enron. I don't remember these people's names off the top of my head, but the female VP who lead the construction division and was forced out before everything hit the fan sold her Enron stock for over $80 million and the top Enron energy trader who I believe is currently one of the youngest self-made billionaires in the US was raking in bonuses of tens of millions of dollars per year in his mid-20's. This doesn't excuse what happened. Cooking the books is about the worst thing that a publicly-traded company can do to its stockholders. Many who lost all of their savings with Enron were employees of the firm. IIRC they had very limited investment options through the firm that were heavily weighted towards Enron stock. Are you saying that if you had invested in a company based on the financial statements that it issued and later found out that you had been the victim of fraud that you would not sue?

Again, I haven't seen the film, so I don't know how the accounting issues were presented, but it has been my understanding that "mark to market" was not the big issue in the perpetration of the fraud. There were actually two other issues, "OBSE"'s and collusion from the auditing team. "Off-balance sheet entities" were used to disguise losses and hide valueless assets. The auditing team from Arthur Andersen (RIP), which was supposed to be independent, was well aware of the fraud but afraid to lose the fee and signed off on fraudulent financial statements. Sarbanes-Oxley was passed as a result.

Dr Mabuse
02-19-11, 03:56 PM
Those Enron guys... they were some piece of work huh?

02-19-11, 04:02 PM
I don't know, I haven't seen the movie.

02-19-11, 04:06 PM
It's quite good.

02-19-11, 10:14 PM
WTF is this shit? :gah: Not since Thor's Thread of Purity have I seen such disregard for the spirit of the rules around here.