3 1/2 stars
What The Notorious B.I.G.‘s “Mo Money Mo Problems” says in four minutes is what director Matthew Cooke shows in his hour and a half documentary “How to Make Money Selling Drugs.” By slightly diverging from the traditional documentary style and offering first hand anecdotes, Cooke offers an introspective look at how America’s War on Drugs was established because of money and political power.
Through interviews with former drug dealers, addicts and DEA agents, the audience is presented with ten “easy” steps on how to go from broke Joe Schmo to millionaire cartel lord. Cooke succeeds in humanizing his interviewees as they recount the struggles that led to their involvement with drugs. By doing this, Cooke gives a necessary reminder that be it a law breaker or law enforcer, no human is completely good or bad and should not be categorized as such. Cooke asserts this is not a black and white issue, much like the nation’s drug problem.
Cooke chooses to present the film in the style of an infomercial. This saves “How to Make Money” from its otherwise mediocre content. The film is less like a documentary and more like a goofy sales pitch. Instead of the audience being forced to agree with Cooke’s morals, we are sold an idea that can either be accepted or rejected. This validates and makes acceptable how liberally biased “How to Make Money” is.
Though not as insightful as Cooke presents it, “How to Make Money Selling Drugs” is still a compelling and educational film, which reiterates and reinforces the devastation that accompanies the American drug war. Ultimately, the movie is one of countless arguments which urge attention to this unresolved national issue.