Fast, Cheap & Out of Control (1997)

PG  |   |  Documentary  |  3 October 1997 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 3,118 users  
Reviews: 43 user | 52 critic

What do an elderly topiary gardener, a retired lion tamer, a man fascinated by mole rats, and a cutting-edge robotics designer have in common? Both nothing and everything in this ... See full summary »


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Complete credited cast:
Himself (Wild Animal Trainer)
Himself (Topiary Gardener)
Raymond A. Mendez ...
Himself (Mole-Rat Specialist) (as Ray Mendez)
Himself - Robot Scientist


What do an elderly topiary gardener, a retired lion tamer, a man fascinated by mole rats, and a cutting-edge robotics designer have in common? Both nothing and everything in this unconventional documentary directed by Erroll Morris. Fast, Cheap & Out of Control (Referring to the robot specialist's strange philosophy of robot design structure, not Erroll Morris's documentary techniques!) interplays, overlaps, and interrelates these four separate and highly specialized documentary subjects in order to in truth study all of humanity, raising questions about the future of mankind. Written by Matthew F. Griffin

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Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for mild thematic elements | See all certifications »


Official Sites:



Release Date:

3 October 1997 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ektos elenhou  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$23,665 (USA) (3 October 1997)


$832,785 (USA) (9 January 1998)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


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Did You Know?


Discussed in Episode 97 of the popular radio program This American Life. The subject was "Death to Wacky" and it originally aired on March 20, 1998. See more »


Rodney Brooks: If you analyze it too much, life becomes almost meaningless.
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Features The Big Cage (1933) See more »

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User Reviews

Delightful Surprise.
20 June 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Encapsulated reviews are misleading. I had several times bypassed "Fast, Cheap and Out of Control" on IFC for more lively sounding fare on movie channels. When I finally selected it as the least boring of an afternoon's TV movie offerings, I regretted not having picked it sooner and seen it more often.

This documentary delighted me! Interviews were enhanced by display of the works of four brilliant practitioners, fanatical about the unusual focus of their work or study. We are introduced to naked mole rats, robots as the next stage in evolution, wild animal training and a visionary handicrafter/topiary designer. Each professional provided unusual insights to their efforts and perhaps to our own natures as human beings.

The documentary seemed designed to hold even those with the even shortest of attention spans. Rather than engaging each subject in depth as a single segment, the interviews are presented in approximately one minute scenarios, often with a montage of old film footage relating connections and historical ideas about some of the subject matter. Just as a viewer's mind might start to drift during a segment, it collides with the next subject, often forcing mental connections that may not have come naturally.

After watching this one, I felt compelled to find and view the other productions of Errol Morris, and I shall keep an eye out for his future works. I believe that its audience should comprise anyone with a spark of interest in the world around them and the desire to be entertained. Whether you are fond of documentaries or not, I think this one will offer a pleasant and quickly passing ninety minutes.

Gene Romero

14 of 19 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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