Steven Soderbergh made an interesting choice in telling the story of Mark Whitacre, the agri-food exec who turned informant and paid a price. Part fraud, part whistleblower, Whitacre is a heady topic for the screen—one that, in most hands, would have been dramatized for maximum fustian, like the kind that blusters through The Insider and Shattered Glass. We learn at once that The Informant! isn’t tracing the usual outlines (the title’s jazz-hands exclamation point suggests as much). A saucy disclaimer and a stylized title sequence tell us that Whitacre’s story will be ironized; the mod font over vintage recording devices hint that we’re in for a satire informed by the likes of Smile or Shampoo. I admire Soderbergh’s attempt to approach the topic of corporate crime from a less predictable angle and to insert Whitacre’s story into a surreal framework, but that’s all I admire in The Informant!, a film that began, probably, as a shining concept on paper but arrived on our screens baffled and still-born.