Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room

7.61 h 49 min2005X-RayR
Alex Gibney examines the rise and fall of an infamous corporate juggernaut.
Alex Gibney
Peter CoyoteMichael LugenbuehlMark Salzberg
DocumentarySpecial Interest
English [CC]
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Magnolia Pictures
R (Restricted)
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Foul languagenuditysexual contentsmokingviolence
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4.6 out of 5 stars

2117 global ratings

  1. 75% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 14% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 7% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 2% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 3% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

JeffReviewed in the United States on August 13, 2020
2.0 out of 5 stars
Total leftist propaganda against free market and for big government (overregulation)
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The tip should have been that Peter Coyote, one of the top liberals in "hallow wood" was the narrator. I wanted, as most of us I assume to, watch an objective, fact based documentary which was VERY WELL done, only to be ruined by the constant intrusion of the implication the Republicans groomed the Enron execs, gave them carte blanche while mostly democrats grilled them after the collapse. Otherwise I would have given it 5 stars. Of course free markets and low regulation will let the hucksters spring up. The question is, if you want strong government regulation and over-reach, there are plenty of dictatorships, socialist and communist countries who's beleaguered citizens emigrate...here.
30 people found this helpful
R. WilliamsReviewed in the United States on May 21, 2021
1.0 out of 5 stars
Leftist Revision Of The Facts
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Don't be fooled by this "documentary" as it is extremely bias and ignores all the wrong doings of Democratic politicians who were neck deep in the scandal. From the Clinton's direct involvement to that of of the prominent Democrat leaders, this "documentary" ignores it. The sickening twisting of the facts in this "documentary" cheapen the suffering of those of us who were adversely affected by the events the corruption at Enron caused. I hate when film makers play these political bias games and only provide propaganda and not truth. If I could give a lower rating than one star I would. TELL THE TRUTH FOR ONCE. Stop with all the bias lying and truth distorting of history,
13 people found this helpful
Jeffrey tackettReviewed in the United States on May 23, 2020
1.0 out of 5 stars
Blaming a proven system, for human failures ...
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Capitalism is always the target of this type of documentary. Somehow, the people who broke the laws that were put in place to stop this type of thing, are always absolved of their responsibility because of "the system". This is nonsense. Free markets are the only way. Freedom is always the answer. This doesn't mean that there won't be people who exploit the system. The alternative is not to take the power from the entire population, and give it to 1-3 top-level politicians. That simply makes the exploitation more likely, and more devastating as it happens. As long as morality and ethics erode, people will continue to value profit over competence, and this type of thing will happen. Like ripples in a pond, once you allow the base family and spiritual values to come under attack, the impact will spread to everything, and be amplified exponentially, as it does. There was a time when the "flaw" wasn't human. We resolved that flaw. Now we have the human flaw to address.
15 people found this helpful
Shopper 777Reviewed in the United States on February 12, 2016
5.0 out of 5 stars
... least a dozen times and it never ceases to amaze me at the level of corruption that was in ...
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I have watched this production at least a dozen times and it never ceases to amaze me at the level of corruption that was in Enron. This documentary provided a lot of insight into the mindset of those at the helm of Enron's operations.

One thing I really enjoyed was seeing Bethany MacLean offering her insight into the company during different segments. This was important to me since she is the author of the Forbes article that questioned how Enron was making money (before the scandal broke). Another interesting feature of the film is that it offers audio clips of traders laughing at how they were taking advantage of the state of California during a rolling brown-out (which they manufactured) by selling them electricity at obscene rates. Other video/audio clips are incorporated to let the viewer see/hear the disdain Enron's leadership had for others in their own words.

The film doesn't go too deeply into the specifics that only an accountant or attorney would understand, however the producers do provide plenty of evidence of the criminal behavior as well as the manipulation by Enron's leadership of others for its own ill-gotten gain. This film also provides insight into a large number of different schemes Fastow and Skilling used to fraudulently report revenue as well as hide debt from the balance sheet in order to make its earnings look much better than they actually were.

This is a good film to get an overview of how bad Enron was before its collapse. I would recommend anyone who wants a basic understanding of the rise and fall of Enron to see this movie.
42 people found this helpful
Michael GriswoldReviewed in the United States on September 8, 2016
5.0 out of 5 stars
An Astounding Story of Corporate Greed
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Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room was assigned viewing as part of our unit on business ethics and all I can say is “WOW”! Basically any principle of business ethics articulated in textbooks on business was violated in the greed fueled pursuit of profits. Using a combination of public hearing footage and new interviews with former Enron employees at various levels of the company, the Smartest Guys in the Room illustrates what happens when the pursuit of profits overpowers the so called intelligence of the smartest guys in the room.

Being that it’s a documentary, one always has to question the biases of the filmmakers involved. But the fraud, abuse, arrogance, and about twenty-seven other adjectives that a person could use that occurred at Enron really overpower any color or shading that the filmmakers may have put forward. 20,000 people lost their jobs and thousands of employees barely had enough retirement money left for dinner at Burger King, while top executives skated off with millions (well before their prison terms that is…)

A documentary case of American Corporate Culture gone bananas that will make you equal parts sad and mad. The only question I have left is “How much has really changed”? Given what we know about the global financial crisis.
25 people found this helpful
MARKReviewed in the United States on June 24, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
Deja Vu All Over Again
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It seems the actions of Enron in the 1990s up until 2001 have repeated themselves before and since. You welcome to defend capitalism but unregulated capitalism and fraud veiled in capitalism seems to be a repeat issue. The dot com bubble burst a couple years eariler before their own demise... housing bubble burst just 5+ years after... there are still some repeat elements of what Enron did reoccuring over and over and over again. A simple explanation of an open market is full of failures is a lazy arguement. The collateral damage to who they defraud then bail out leaving their employees in their bankrupt wake should warrent longer jail sentences.
4 people found this helpful
Amazon CustomerReviewed in the United States on March 26, 2022
5.0 out of 5 stars
Love this video
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A well-created documentary of one of the largest energy brokers. The utter gall used by a few men who thought they were the smartest men in the room, lost everything due to the same disregard for anyone they felt were lesser than they.

I saw this on cable years ago. Found it again on my local library e-lending site. I borrowed it so many time, figured I should just bite the bullet and get a copy,
The true story of the rise and fall of Enron is a lesson which should be watched by anyone who lived through the time; who invests; or one who works for a huge company...essentially everyone.
Or as it's been said (sort of) those who don't learn from the mistakes of the past are bound to mke them, or fall victem to them again.
Andy GallowayReviewed in the United States on June 24, 2021
4.0 out of 5 stars
The emporer has no clothes
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Capitalism is an incredible system. As Herbert Hoover said the only problem with capitalism is capitalists. It is based on the voluntary trade of goods for capital. The Smartest guys in the Room is a documentary that expertly displays the corruption of this system... the introduction of greed. Like a mad Ponzi scheme it was created with the best of intentions. Through interviews, news clips, and assorted scenes Magnolia Pictures expertly tells to story to an incredible soundtrack. Though it is not emphasized all who worked with Enron were partners in the deception, it does not hesitate to utilize the back talk and commentary of the traders on the floor in elated joy at deluding the audience. They were all master illusionists who did their job so well they deceived themselves. At times, though subtle, it does seem to take jabs against the Bush family and others who longed for deregulation. One could argue however that this was necessary to establish the environment that would allow the theater of deception that Enron constructed. Well built and displayed this documentary is an excellent morality tale about the dangers of greed.
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