Maxed Out: Hard Times, Easy Credit and the Era of Predatory Lenders
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Index 42 reviews in total 

42 out of 49 people found the following review useful:

Film needs to be widely seen by young and the poor

10/10
Author: kevlynnof from New Zealand
19 August 2006

Extremely powerful message. Particularly the fact that credit card companies make most of their money from the people who really shouldn't have credit cards. The young and the poor who when they can't meet minimum repayments are socked with extra fees and penalty interest.

Should be shown in all high schools and colleges as a warning to the vulnerable. However given the power of the credit card company political lobby groups, this film will probably get minimal distribution and disappear.

This would be unfortunate as the message here is communicated in a clear and entertaining style.

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35 out of 40 people found the following review useful:

Maxed Out - A film whose time has come

10/10
Author: WebGuyTV from United States
29 June 2006

Maxed Out is an eye opening documentary that is long, long overdue. Over the last few decades the credit industry has only become bolder and more aggressive. Maxed Out begs the question: Have they gone too far? Seeing this movie will make you think twice about filling out another credit card application.

As one of the characters early on in the film, I was aware of a lot of the dirty tricks and tactics used by creditors, bill collectors, 'professional debt collectors' and the like. I truly thought I knew about the level of greed this film would expose in the credit industry. I was a debt collector for nearly a decade but left the industry because of the many 'slime balls' indigenous to the profession. It takes a certain kind of person to remain in this industry for the long haul.

What I did not know, was the depths at which some creditors would be willing to sink. Even I was appalled at the actions of some of the biggest names in the lending business, and I thought I had seen every dirty trick in the book. Without going into detail as to how Maxed Out reveals the atrocities committed by the credit industry as a whole, I can only say that you will likely leave the theater totally amazed yet possibly disgusted in the aftermath of Maxed Out's revelations. You'll likely be very surprised to see who has their hands deeply submerged in the proverbial cookie jar.

Although the inevitable comparisons between Maxed Out and Super Size Me will be drawn, one must realize that not everybody eats at McDonald's but everyone has debt. Even if it's just your share of the national debt. Everyone is affected by debt.

A lot has changed since my bankruptcy ten years ago. Thanks to a new change in the bankruptcy laws it's virtually impossible to obtain the level of bankruptcy protection today that I relied on in 1996. The public needs to know what's happening before these modern day loan sharks end up trying to take over the world and turning us all into eternal debt slaves. James Scurlock should be applauded for doing this film. This story would have been very easy 'not to do.'

The most unexpected thing about Maxed Out is its breathtaking resolution on the big screen. A lot of the footage shot for Maxed Out looks spectacular thanks to the genius of Jon Aaron Aaseng. It's almost inconceivable that a documentary about America's credit card debt can be this entertaining, this provocative and this easy to watch all at the same time. See it.

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32 out of 37 people found the following review useful:

Re: Scary

10/10
Author: from United States
21 March 2006

I saw this movie at the SXSW film festival and can't recommend it enough. It is AWESOME - right up there with a lot of the great documentaries that have come out the past few years. Basically it's about the predatory practices of the credit card companies, and how the government just seems to look the other way. Doesn't sound all that entertaining, right? I guarantee it will tick you off...and then make you a little nervous (see it and then tell me you won't think twice before applying for another credit card). Some of the things it covers are the ways that credit card companies have refined their practices to prey on college students (without jobs), the mentally disabled, people in bankruptcy, etc. and are never held accountable by the government for their actions (if fact, the CEO of a bank that was fined $400 million dollars for SHREDDING customers checks to charge false late fees was actually made a member of the current administration's cabinet). It also spotlights the fact that the largest campaign contributer in the 2004 election was the banking institution that coincidentally co-authored a bill that made it harder for middle-class Americans to file for bankruptcy. I hope this movie is put into wide release. I think it's something everybody in this country should see.

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28 out of 35 people found the following review useful:

Why So Many are in Debt

9/10
Author: jkn from United States
9 April 2006

This documentary gives an excellent explanation as to why so many people are in debt. It starts out with us riding along with a real estate agent in Las Vegas. People are obsessed with material things, and we all want to have more than we have.

But what the film does is explain how the banks and financial institutions have preyed upon the masses, especially the lower income families and young people who don't have a good understanding of how to manage money.

You'll see how families have been ruined by credit card debt and how insidious this game has gotten. If anything, this movie will make you question why we don't teach every child in America how to manage their money before they graduate high school so that they don't get caught in the credit card trap.

I think this movie is a must see for everyone, so they can understand why 10 percent of our society holds 2/3 of all the wealth in America and why the rest of us in the 90 percent can't seem to get ahead!

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10 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

When the American Dream turns into a nightmare

8/10
Author: Roland E. Zwick (magneteach@aol.com) from United States
8 August 2007

It's a well known fact that Americans are among the most consumer-oriented and debt-ridden people on the planet. It's perhaps less well known that banks and credit card companies actually make their largest profits by extending mass amounts of credit to the very people who can least afford to be in debt. By finally exposing this ironic truth to the light of day, the documentary "Maxed Out" aims to hold the powers-that-be accountable for their actions.

James D. Scurlock, the writer and director of the film, brings us one heartbreaking story after another about ordinary average citizens who have fallen victim to this consumer-credit nightmare. Some are struggling working-class folk who were scammed by debt-consolidation lenders into believing that they would be paying lower interest rates and payments on their loans, only to discover that their new rates and payments were, in reality, astronomically higher. Others are 18 year-old college students, who, it turns out, are prime targets for credit card companies who see these "bad risks" as gold stars in their corporate profit ledgers. Lending institutions also go after people who have previously filed for bankruptcy, knowing that such individuals are not only spending-prone by nature but legally unable to file for bankruptcy a second time. Scurlock also interviews debt-collectors who seem all but indifferent to the plight of those they are going after, as well as more humanistic economists who understand completely the depth of the problem.

Perhaps the most damning criticism is leveled at politicians like George W. Bush and the members of Congress who passed the ironically named Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, making it much harder for the average American to escape his consumer debt burden and much easier for irresponsible creditors to hound their debtors sometimes literally to death, a point Scurlock brings home when he interviews people whose loved ones have committed suicide as a result of their financial and debt-related woes. Yet, ironically, the film also shows the flippant attitude government officials seem to adopt regarding the nation's own debt situation as trillions of dollars of red ink spill unimpeded across the nation's treasury.

In terms of style, "Maxed Out" lacks the pizazz and showmanship of a Michael Moore expose, but Scurlock's single-minded passion still shines through loud and clear. This is a fairly straightforward talking-heads documentary that cuts to the heart of the problem with compassion and precision. The director does provide some much needed levity, though, by showing us snippets of a very funny standup comedy routine on the subject by Louis C. K., as well as excerpts from a typically cheesy 1960 instructional short entitled "The Wise Use of Credit" (the DVD contains the full ten-minute version of the film in the "Extra Features" section).

"Maxed Out" is another in a long line of documentaries seemingly designed to make one feel insignificant and powerless in the face of hugely impersonal corporate forces. Yet, if knowledge itself is power, then movies like "Sicko," "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room," "Maxed Out" etc. may, in their own small way, help lead to much-needed reform and change in the way the government and Big Business deal with the least of us in society. Let us hope that is the case.

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7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Excellent-If you don't like it, it probably hits too close to home.

8/10
Author: Vincent Rocca from Hollywood
26 September 2008

Excellent flick. I often felt that people were at fault for their own credit mess and to some extent, I still do.

This movie opened my eyes to how many of these credit giants prey on the uninformed and manage to make money through bankruptcies.

Someone charges $1000, makes a payment then goes delinquent. The late penalties cause that to become $3000, then after 180 days the bank writes that debt off and sells it at 50% to a debt collector for $1500. The bank still collects their principal, plus whatever payments the original person made, plus $500, plus takes a write off. It seems like a no brainer to hand money out like paper.

When a predator offers candy to a child, do we blame the child for taking the sweet bait? No, because the child didn't know better. So are these people at fault?

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Til Debt Due You Part

10/10
Author: fwomp from United States
28 November 2008

I can think of no better day than today to review this excellent documentary. You see, today is the day after Thanksgiving 2008; what many call "Black Friday." It is the day many of us sink further into debt buying crap our friends and family probably don't need nor want. Couple that with a destabilizing economy and you've got serious issues to think about. The question we need to ask ourselves is "why?" Why do we feel the need to spend more than we make (or may ever make)? The tough answer is here in MAXED OUT, writer/director James D. Scurlock's first feature length documentary.

I think many of us know the answer but simply refuse to acknowledge it: we want to keep up with the Jones'. They have a new car, we need a new car. They have a new washer/dryer, we need a new one. It is a cycle being perpetuated by the credit industry and we, the consumers, have been drawn to it like moths to a flamethrower.

Maxed Out gives us insights that should make one angry and fearful. Predatory lenders like MBNA, Capitol One, and other credit card companies target those that are least likely to be able to afford credit. Why? Because these are the people who max out their cards then pay the minimum monthly amounts until ...either bankrupt or death do them part. It's a marriage made in Hell and it continues to this day. College students who enter a new campus are likely to find tables set up near their dorms offering sign ups for new credit cards. Why? Again, because they can't afford it (sadly these are the people who end up in the worst situations, often dangling from their necks in dorm room closets).

Add to this fact that we are now in the worst financial/debt crisis in U.S. history (end of 2008) and is there any wonder why? George Bush and his buddies at MBNA passed a new law that puts tighter restrictions on filing for bankruptcy, making those who really need assistance the least likely to get it (but it's okay to spend 700 billion taxpayer dollars to bail out banks that caused this debacle). Heinous. And do the credit card companies have to answer to anyone? Morally or ethically? Not that I've seen.

This is a documentary well worth your while. And at a quick 89 minutes, it won't eat up a lot of your precious time ...like those credit card bills will.

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7 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Scary yet great movie

8/10
Author: Marie (utoepeea@gmail.com) from Los Angeles, CA
15 June 2007

I think this movie was wonderful and shows not only as individuals are we not responsible with your credit (in some cases because were are unable to get the basics due to our salaries) but it shows how we as a society feed on the poor in a variety of ways. It shows how our materialism as gone out of control.. HOUSES WITH ELEVATORS? This need

to have "things" no matter what the cost is quite sad. I cried with the moms in the film talking about their kids, and what credit card debit as done to new college students.

It was scary and informative... Now excuse me while I go check my credit rating!

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7 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

I owe I owe it's off to work I go

7/10
Author: DJJOEINC from Virginia Beach
30 May 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Maxed Out -Well made documentary about credit cards and credit card debt.Depressing and infuriating at the same time.I am 39 and have not had a credit card since I was 18(and that was for a clothing store).I am lucky-I have little in savings - but no credit debt- except my mortgage-which took me forever to get since I had no credit history.More luck than planning.This movie starts in Las Vegas and winds its way thur the US- we see widowers selling everything and anything to keep their family home- we see the indebted and poor getting solicited for more credit cards.This is not a fun movie nor is it a partisan movie- they managed to throw potshots at both the donkeys and the elephants.The madness will continue until someone finds a way to neuter the financial lobby.The DVD has several extras including a vintage short The Wise USe of Credit.On a weird and personal note- one of the reporters covering this story was my favorite college basketball player in 1982- Mike Hudson -he was also my coach in summer basketball camp- just so weird to look at the screen and recognize someone I had not see since 7th grade- and so glad to see him doing some good(at least that is how it looked in the movie.Worth a rental. B+

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17 out of 31 people found the following review useful:

An excellent and thought provoking film about the rising problem of debt in America

10/10
Author: Eric Pachicano from United States
16 March 2006

This film is excellent! I believe everyone must see it! The way it was cut/edited and the brilliance of the way it was shot is amazing and phenomenal! The filmmakers really knew what they were doing in filming this movie and getting behind such a fantastic idea! It is a must see for anyone in America, it can help you better understand our nations rising debt, and It is impossible after seeing this film to not think about the way you spend your money and play your bills. I say thank you James Scurlock, John Aaron Aaeseng, and Alexis Spraic for making this film! I give it a big Woot Woot! Thank you again for making such a thought provoking and amazing film... It has changed my life and I'm sure the lives of many. Wonderful job! and Amazing work of art!

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