Tyler Cowen’s review of The End of Poverty (the documentary) is, well, crushing:
I can only report that The End of Poverty, narrated throughout by Martin Sheen, puts Ayn Rand back on the map as an accurate and indeed insightful cultural commentator. If you were to take the most overdone and most caricatured cocktail-party scenes from Atlas Shrugged, if you were to put the content of Rand’s “whiners” on the screen, mixed in with at least halfway competent production values, you would get something resembling The End of Poverty. If you ever thought that Rand’s nemeses were pure caricature, this film will show you that they are not (if the stalking presence of Naomi Klein has not already done so). If you are looking to benchmark this judgment, consider this: I would not say anything similar even about the movies of Michael Moore.
The film shares the name of Jeff Sachs’ now famous volume. I only know Sachs as his former teaching assistant (which is to say not at all). But I did teach for him the year he wrote End of Poverty. My sense is that there are two Jeff Sachs. I mean this in the same sense that a political theory prof once told me there are two Marx’s: the “sophisticated Marx” of the Eighteenth Brumaire, offering a nuanced and thoughtful view of French history; and the “vulgar Marx” of the Communist Manifesto, a simplistic screed appropriate for the masses.
The End of Poverty strikes me as Sachs’ Manifesto–a tool for grassroots mobilization. The film is an extension of that campaign. I think there exists, but still await, Sachs’ Eighteenth Brumaire…
Update: A commenter suggests that Sachs had nothing to do with the movie. Is this true? If so, apply the above comments to the book, not the movie. If Tyler is right, it sounds like the former is much better than the latter.
Update 2: I now have it on good authority that Sachs had nothing to do with the film. How did they get away with the title? It’s actually The End of Poverty? and not The End of Poverty. Crafty buggers. Poor Jeff. He’ll suffer in the eyes of so many even more now.