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With Honors, Movie Review Example

Pages: 11

Words: 2985

Movie Review

Economic Evaluation of each Character

Monty Kessler is a Harvard senior, infatuated with the completion of his senior thesis.  During his quest to write the perfect thesis and to be able to graduate summa cum laude, he ran into some unexpected obstacles.  His economic value was the paper.  Monty felt that by sacrificing his time and effort on this thesis now, it would set him up for a substantially better future.  When his computer crashed, he ran off to make emergency copies of the paper.  Along the way he fell and his thesis ended up in the hands of Simon Wilder.  The homeless man, saw the value of the thesis to Monty, and decided to cash in on it by giving one page for every one thing that Monty did for him.  Due to the value of this thesis to Monty, he could have exploited him for significant monetary compensation, but for Simon, the value was in the eighty-three potential favors he could call on from Monty.  Scarcity requires an individual to make choices.  Monty felt the value of his thesis was priceless, so he followed Simon around, doing menial things like bringing him underwear, a glazed donut, and bailing him out for contempt of court.   This senior was fully functioning on self-interest, initially. It was not about helping the homeless guy, it was simply the price he had to pay in order to get what he valued.  He responded in predictable ways to predictable means of changing the circumstances.  Simon knew exactly that, he predicted he could get what he need by holding onto that paper.

Simon Wilder is a visibly challenged homeless man, whose character acted with uncontrolled intelligence.  This man was addressed with economic theories from Monty, the roommates, and basically everyone else that crossed his path.  They assumed his being homeless meant he was lazy, unintelligent, and simply trying to exploit money from people.  Simon disproved this economic theory in many different scenes of this movie. When he goes to court for trespassing and public intoxication, he logically and intelligently argues his way out of the charges.  The debate with the professor that Simon walked away from with the more intelligent argument, and the point where he was eligible for disability that he never collected till he needed to help out Monty.  An economic theory is a hypothesis that is simply testable by prediction on how people will react or behave in changes in economic circumstances. Simon was successfully able to predict how Monty would act in regards to his thesis; however everyone was very wrong about their theories of Simon.  Perhaps his character was not the best person personally, leaving his wife and son so long ago, but as a homeless man, the stereotype he was categorized as economically was not at all reflective of his true human value.

Courtney Bloomenthal is a sarcastic roommate and eventual love interest of Monty.  Her economic value was significant to Monty.  Economic theorist explains this as ceteris paribus, which is letting everything be equal or constant.  This is a relationship between the two variables, which are Courtney and Monty.  When Monty lost his paper in the drain to the library after hours, Courtney was the only reason he was able to get in.  In order for Monty to bail Simon out,  for contempt of court, Courtney gave him the money.  These isolated situations affected the events.  If Courtney did not play the role she did, Simon in essence would have never crossed their path.

Everett Calloway was a fellow student at Harvard College, a DJ, and a roommate to the other four.  His father was wealthy and financed his lifestyle and education, till he decided to cut him off.  He was one of the first to see the value of Simon. Everett’s van was broken and utilized Simon’s ability to specialize in the repair. With limited money, and a need to have his van repaired Simon had the comparative advantage.  Simon was able to repair the van in exchange for bottles of wine.  Economically, they both benefited from this exchange.  In the long run, they ended up with far more than a simple business exchange.

Jeffrey Hawks was an uptight, Pre-Med, frugal roommate who is more concerned on a person’s ability to pay rent than their overall humanity.  He failed to act with rational behavior because he based his decision on their values and information, under current and anticipated future circumstances.  He was predictable in how he responded to changes in incentives.  Simon was not welcome in the house, however once the offer of disability was on the table, his tone eventually changed.  The roommates knew that their economic theory about Jeffrey was correct.  They could predict that his behavior would change, when money was brought into the equation.  Obviously economic theories cannot accurately predict every event that takes place, but it weeds out the irrelevant ones.  In the end, Jeffrey disproved the theory as well.  He wanted go with the roommates on their journey with Simon.  There was no monetary value to that trip, just a new found value in Simon.  The once disregard for humanity was dismissed, the economic value of Simon was in who he was, it was his life, and for  Jeffrey it was not about the money anymore.

Psychological evaluation of each Character

Monty Kessler was a very driven and determined character.  His attributes was his intelligence and human compassion.  In the beginning, Monty was indirectly motivated by money.  This was not a statement of his wealth, but his hopes for future wealth.  He felt the sacrifices he was making, the time and efforts put into that one single paper would change his life.  He didn’t realize his life was going to be changed by an individual who represents the bottom of society.  The place where no one would ever dream their life would end up.  Monty was not in it for the money, his concerns grew for the overall well-being of Simon.  In the end, his true colors showed through.  The very thing that was the basis of his life and his future was not as important anymore.  Believing that his future would truly begin when he graduated summa cu lade, and that is when his life would begin.  Simon’s dying wish was to see his son, once, and Monty disregarded everything he had worked for to make that happen.  This seemly semi-obsessive individual sacrificed the very thing he was viewed to hold the dearest.  He realized that his future was dependent upon the person that he was on the inside.  The lessons he learned in life.  Not the words he spend a year composing on paper.  Monty was a genuinely good individual, even if at times it appeared to be misguided.

Simon Wilder was a very confusing individual.  His character was loud, drunken, and often out of order.   This characteristic played into his homelessness and allowed individuals to treat him passively and as being insignificant.  Simon was a very intelligent individual.  He made selfish decisions, but he also was dealt very bad cards.  He left his wife and son to work for the merchant marines, and as a result of his service he was given asbestosis.  The selfish sacrifice to leave his family haunted Simon, even on his death bed.  His desire to see his son was fulfilled with very little time to spare.  Simon may have acted with street hustle, but his character was a good one.  A little abrasive, void of necessary censorship, but never-the-less he was a man who wanted the best for others. He pushed the roommates to see more than their mediocre dreams, and to reach for more.  And in the end, they all paid tribute to the passing of Simon for the good man that they saw him to be.

Courtney Bloomenthal was a create art student.  Her compassion and concern showed through in most of her actions.  In the beginning Monty seemed to patronize the running group and ran past Courtney pulling her hat off.  Obvious annoyance showed, but when Monty’s computer crashed she was right there to make sure Monty successfully copied it.  She called in her favor with the guard at the library to help Monty sneak in as well.  A seemingly young individual, uses a guy named “face” for sex.  Simon’s sickness was progressing, and you could see her compassion for him.  He was lying on the couch with his head in her lap, this is one instance where Courtney’s character showed with compassion.  Another example that showed Courtney’s character was when she invited her left out roommate, Jeffrey to go with her to the party after the other roommates intentionally left him out.  Her relationship with Monty was contrary to her statement of not taking sex home.  However, her feelings for him showed.  She stood by Simon on his death bed, and read with the other roommates till he passed away.  Even at her worst, she was someone whose kindness for others managed to always show through.

Everett Calloway was Monty’s best friend and roommate to the others.  He was a playful character who showed affection to his pet rooster.  Everett was often wise cracking, and didn’t seem to take too many things serious.  His co-host was his rooster, and was shown tucking him in as he left for Christmas holiday.  Everett was cultivated in a florid, ironic manner.  When he came back to the empty cage, one would have expected him to be sad about the loss, but he seemed almost relieved.  The rooster bit him all the time and I think he kept him due to loyalty not because he really liked him.  His comical characteristic was visible in a playful way.  When Courtney asked him if she could borrow a condom he responded with a, “no but you can have one”.  Then he continued on and asked if it was for a pop quiz.  He was one of the first ones to warm up to Simon.  He even had him on his radio show.   Everett coming from money, his character would be assumedly on a different class level than a homeless man, but that never showed through in his character.  He was there at Simon’s dying wish and on his death bed, honoring his new found friend.  His emotions showed serious in the passing and he put aside his playful wisecracking characteristics for that point.

Jeffrey Hawks was the final roommate, and his character was not as easy to understand.  He was neurotic, and seeming obsessed with the almighty dollar.  He was a sissified premed student whose goal was to become a gynecologist.  Jeffrey was against Simon moving in.  He visibly showed no compassion for human life, and even tried to deny him food.  The other roommates in a way ganged up against him, and on several occasions he was left out.  At that point he began to evaluate his actions.  So concerned about rent money, he had no reservation with Simon dying alone on the street.  His ignorance to lower-class society was visible in his actions, words, and treatment of Simon.  Simon playfully bantered him, and Jeffrey had no idea how to respond to him.  Jeffrey wanted the French toast that Simon had made, and when it was offered to him he reluctantly declined.  The  very possibility of Simon touching his food was enough to deny his love for French toast.   In the end, when he saw Monty completely disregarding the deadline for his thesis, wanted to see what he was missing.  He came around to find respect for the person that Simon was it was just much too late.  He was there when Simon was on his death-bed, and paid his respect at his funeral.  Jeffrey saw past his limited exposure to someone so different from him, and valued the person he saw that Simon was.

Personal Association to one Character and the Overall Relation to Economics

There is much personal association to the character of Monty Kessler.  Being driven and focused on a specific outcome, can at times, hinder the actual process of getting there.  Meaning, that there is always more than one way to get to an end result, the lessons you learn along the way are not at our control.  Monty’s actions can be described by Levitt and Dubner, the authors of Super Freakonomics, as “People are people and they respond to incentives. They can nearly always be manipulated for good or ill, if only you find the right levers.”  Simon manipulated Monty as he knew he could when a Harvard senior loses his thesis.  It is the very essence of the four years of education he earned.  That single paper could make the difference in the quality of job that he will get.   For Monty, this thesis was his future, and he would do whatever it took to insure its safe keeping.

Monty knew that his choices all involved a cost.  If he attacked Simon, he would have lost the very thing that held the most value to him, his thesis.  Ignoring his demands would have resulted in the other eighty-three pages being thrown into the furnace. Monty knew this was possible, because when he had walked in, Simon had already burned five pages.  The opportunity cost involved in getting his paper back from Simon, would be menial errands and favors.  To get the thing that he viewed as most valuable, he would have to sacrifice his personal time and money to answer to Simon’s demands.  Personally I can relate to Monty.  The options involved and the overall cost to me.  Not necessarily about a paper, but in other important areas that come up every single day.  Is the cost associated with the product worth it?  If it is not, chances are it’s best to walk away from it and not make personal sacrifices for something that has no value in the long run.

The thesis was the trade-off, because there was no second copy, it was considered as a scarcity.  Something that is one of a kind instinctively becomes more valuable.  If Monty spent more time, doing Simon eighty-three favors, he would have back the very thing he coveted.  To get back the paper that had such a high value to Monty, not necessarily because of its contents that no one had yet read it, but because there was no back-up copy.  The relationship between the opportunity cost and the scarcity is what Monty had to pay.  Economically, the trade-off is as important as the opportunity cost.  Had Simon started his paper from scratch at the time he had dropped it down the drain he may not have done it as well.  However, due to the lessons learned from the friendship he grew with Simon, he decided to start it from scratch anyway.  The trade-off at the time was not worth it, but eventually as Monty’s views changed, so did the relevance of his paper.  I can associate with Monty on this level as well.  You see the value of something differently as circumstances change.  Perhaps a paper, a career, friends, and even material goods, the value changes with time.

One mistake that Monty, and most of the characters in this movie, were operating with is what economists refer to as marginal thinking.  Meaning they thought with small incremental changes to a plan of action.  At that point when the thesis was threatened, the only option was to get it back.  When Monty explained his encounter with Simon, the first reaction was that he could be bought with cash, or turned into the authorities.  The best options and only option was to deal with Simon.  His need for the paper required him to interact with the homeless individual with whom he would have never associated with if the circumstances where different.  Who would have thought that for one second that each of them would have ended up walking away with the life lessons that they learned from Simon.

All too often we judge a book by its cover.  This happens in virtually every faucet of life.  An ugly vase is viewed as garbage, but its value it priceless, a person appears to be below us, they are useless, and what we hold most valuable must truly have value.  I think this is a lesson we have all learned at some point.  Just because it shines does not mean it worth something.  Monty learned a lesson, not only in an economic sense, but also a life-lesson.  Never judge a book by its cover.  Sometimes the very thing we hold the dearest is not really worth what we imagined it to.  And just like in Simon’s case the true value that something holds may not be visible at first glance.  Simon changed Monty’s life, his outlook, his views and ultimately his future.  Monty saw things differently after experiencing Simon’s nontraditional theory of life.  The thesis that was going to make his future was not at all what he knew it should be.  In the end his future began by the decisions he made with honoring Simon’s dying wish.  Personal lessons are learned every day, and in the end the decisions made are ones that have to be lived with.  Monty made his choice, and it was what was best for him and his future, not necessarily about money.  That is how I relate to this character the most.  I can be goal oriented and have a future in mind, but I know along the way the lessons I learn change who I am, and what my end desires are.  The cost of the activity has to measure in terms of the values of that option, or the next best alternative. Every character in this movie added value to the movie.  But the drive and determination that controlled Monty and his compassion for others was all the more reason by there was such a strong personal associate with his character over the others.

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